Letter to the Editor – May 12, 2008

Make Attendance at Dog Fighting a Felony

Once again we find evidence of what all citizens know exists and want stopped, what most law enforcement people know exists but ignore, what legislators know exists but won’t get serious about stopping:  Dog fighting.

This legislatve session, Rep. Malero introduced a bill that would have made attending a dog fight a felony.  The rationale is that if you dry up the big betting money, you make fighting unprofitable and not worth the effort.  Some fight attendees are professionals, politicians, and law enforcement people who bet huge money on these fights.  If attendng were a felony, many would stop going for fear of a raid and the resulting public exposure — not good for high profile people.

The bill died in committee.  The reason given by Ledy Vankavage, Esq., legislative director for the ASPCA, was that it is too expensive to jail people so the state is careful what crimes it makes a felony because those convicted could go to jail. After all — Illinois has a budget problem.  Case closed.

I spoke to area Rep. Lisa Dugan who said while she would never attend a dog fight, she did not feel making attending a felony would have any impact as increasing penalties does not curtail crime.

Uh-huh.  I tried to explain to the ill-informed Dugan that while this is correct in most instances, this is a unique situation and increasing the penalty is a basic marketing tact.  If you dry up the money, you dry up the product because it is no longer profitable.

Even before the Vick expose when people saw what dog fighting was really about, people were against it.  The high profile big money betters know public exposure would hurt their reputations.  Thus, if attending fights were a felony, many would stop rather than risk being caught committing a felony.  A felony gets publicity — a misdemeanor, which is now the penalty for attending dog fights, seldom does.

We saw this fear of exposure when pigeon shoots were allowed in Illinois.  When attendees would pull up to the shoot site and saw demonstrators with video camers, they immediately turned and sped away fearing publicity that would hurt their reputation.

Many politicians in Illinois don’t want to take on the dog fighters.  One wonders why?  Has the word been sent to leave it alone?  Are some protecting friends or high profile people?  The only way our gutless politicians will get serious about stopping dog fights is if the public demands it. 

The bill will no doubt come up again next year.  This time, hopefully, there will be publicity so the public can get involved.

In the meantime, the low life who fight dogs have free reign to do business as usual.

Robert Nixon
Peotone, IL