Idaho "Worst State" for Dogfighting Laws: HSUS

The pressure is ramping up on Idaho to change its dogfighting laws.

After a visit earlier this summer from the Humane Society's president, the group has now issued a list of the "worst states for dogfighting laws."

And yep, we're on top.

Idaho, Wyoming, Georgia, Nevada and Hawaii have the weakest dogfighting laws on the books, the animal group says, allowing some aspects of the cruel practice to go "completely unpunished."

Idaho and Wyoming remain the only states in the nation that do not consider dogfighting a felony.

From the group's release:

"As the Idaho law stands, dogfighters must literally get caught in the act in order to face prosecution. The state has weak misdemeanor penalties and has no penalty for owning, buying, possessing, breeding or training dogs for fighting purposes."

Yes, there have been efforts to change this in the past. But with dogfighting in the news lately via the NFL's Michael Vick, Idaho lawmakers hoping to change dogfighting laws might have a new opportunity. Even Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has said he wants to see the law changed.

“The recent case in which a Malad couple were charged with manufacturing marijuana and running a dogfighting ring—in which more than 30 dogs were stolen before being rescued—further demonstrates that dogfighting is indeed occurring in Idaho,” said Mary Remer, Director of Pocatello Animal Control. “This is not just about animal cruelty but the other illegal activities that go hand in hand with this blood sport.”

The five states with the best laws – New Jersey, Alabama, Colorado, Mississippi and Arizona—carry felony penalties for dogfighting, possessing dogs for fighting, and being a spectator at a dogfight, with minimum jail sentences ranging from 9 months to 3 years.

“Now that the nation has been awakened to the horrors of dogfighting and its prevalence, states with weak dogfighting laws need to step up to the plate,” said John Goodwin, The HSUS’s manager of animal fighting issues. “Strong felony penalties for dogfighting, including being a spectator at a fight, are essential to controlling this criminal, multi-million dollar industry. No one who fights dogs or who is complicit in this horribly cruel activity should be able to escape the law.”

At the federal level, the Humane Society says, President Bush signed the Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act in May 2007. That law strengthens penalties for moving animals across state lines to participate in animal fights.