LEGAL OUTREACH
Home
MADACC


Watch dogs speak out themselves against dog fighting.

 
 
   

 

 

 

While organized dogfighting activity seemed to decline in the 1990s, many law enforcement and animal control officials feel that it has rebounded in recent years. Street fighting has reportedly continued to grow as a significant component of urban crime. The Internet has also made it easier for dogfighters to rapidly exchange information about animals and fights.

Committed Partnership with Milwaukee Police Department
District 5

While animal abuse is often hidden behind the scenes, it remains shockingly prevalent, despite the fact that it is illegal everywhere and is a felony in 50 states. Dogfighting is a particularly insidious form of animal cruelty that is on the rise in some parts of the country. The commitment and participation of local law enforcement is essential to Battle Against Dogfighting’s success in Milwaukee. BAD partners with Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) officers to alert citizens that dogfighting will not be tolerated.

MADACC offers training seminars to MPD on how to recognize the signs of dogfighting and on the safe handling of animals. We bring in seasoned experts to give detailed presentations on identifying and catching dogfighting rings. BAD works closely with MADACC to increase educational and training opportunities for MPD officers and prosecutors, to put animal abusers behind bars and break up organized animal fighting rings.

In Wisconsin, any involvement in dogfighting can make you a felon:

• Own or possess a dog used for dogfighting

• Breed a dog used for dogfighting

• Train a dog used for dogfighting

• Sell a dog used for dogfighting

• Wager money or anything of value on the result of such dogfighting

• Host a dogfight

• Transport a dog used for dogfighting

• Advertise for dogfighting

• Even BEING A SPECTATOR of a dogfight can be charged as a felony (second offense)

These felony charges face serious punishment with jail time of up to
10 years and $15,000 in fines.

BAD also provides legal support to the district attorney’s office and supports the criminal pursuits of all animal cruelty cases. We closely follow all cases, organizing courthouse demonstrations to publicly thank police officers for apprehending such criminals. Such demos also serve to raise awareness in the community of the realities of dogfighting - it’s happening here in Milwaukee, it’s cruel and in humane, it’s illegal, and it’s heavily inter-related with other violent felonies.

Dogfighting is a violent and highly secretive enterprise that is extremely difficult for law enforcement and investigative professionals to infiltrate. A dogfight investigation requires many of the same skills and resources as a major undercover narcotics investigation, and challenges the resources of any agency that seeks to respond to it.

An additional complication is that the evidence likely to be seized includes living creatures who must be taken care of and maintained while the judicial process unfolds. Most prosecutors would be happy to take on every dogfight case they could, but they are limited by the human and animal care resources available to them.

Laws Related to Dogfighting

As of 2008, dogfighting is illegal and a felony in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. In most states, the possession of dogs for the purpose of fighting is also a felony offense. In Wisconsin (and 19 other states), being a spectator at a dogfight is also a felony.

The federal Animal Welfare Act also prohibits the interstate transport of animals for the purposes of fighting. When federal animal fighting laws were initially enacted in 1976, dogfighting activities were considered to be a misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of 1 year. For this reason it was very rare that federal authorities were involved in the investigation or prosecution of dogfighting unless other crimes were associated with it, such as drug trafficking, alcohol or firearms violations, or financial crimes.

In 2007, Congress passed the Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act with strong bipartisan support. The Act became law in May 2007, and provides felony penalties for interstate commerce, import and export relating to commerce in dogfighting dogs and dogfighting paraphernalia. Each violation can result in up to 3 years in jail and a $250,000 fine.

BAD knows it is essential for citizens to have a trusting relationship with local law enforcement in order for them to invest in efforts that reduce crime in their communities. MPD officers partner with BAD in community outreach (pledge canvassing, educational events, block watches, community meetings, etc.). MPD officers help promote the HSUS’s anonymous reward tip line, which offers up to $5,000 for tips leading to dogfighting arrests(1-877-847-4787).
If you suspect dogfighting, contact your local police (911).

 

Court Advocates

By monitoring and attending court cases that involve cruelty against animals, BAD’s Court Advocates show police, court officials, and offends that community members want safe, humane neighborhoods and enforcement of laws holding abusers of all kinds accountable. The presence of Court Advocates means citizens are taking a stand against violence and abuse, and representing victims who cannot represent themselves. It means support for law enforcement and their community partners who intervene in these crimes. It also sends a message to offenders that we will not tolerate such crimes in our neighborhoods. Your presence, observations, and awareness help ensure that these crimes against animals are treated seriously and help alleviate the suffering of the victims -- the animals. You have the power to help stop the suffering and create safer, more humane communities.
Won't you   join us?