Philadelphia Efagles quarterback Michael Vick announced Tuesday he was backing a bill to stop dogfighting, an activity for which he spent nearly two years in a federal penitentiary.
"I do regret my previous involvement in dogfighting," Mr. Vick said. "When I was in prison, I decided to be part of the solution, not part of the problem."
The Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act would make it a misdemeanor to knowingly attend a dog or cock fight. According to the Humane Society, spectators generate the bulk of revenue for the illegal enterprise.
"You take away the profits, you can eliminate the problem," Mr. Vick said.
Mr. Vick was arrested in 2007 for financing and being directly involved in a dogfighting ring named Bad Newz Kennels. The announcement Tuesday took place four years to the date after Nike suspended Mr. Vick's footwear line after his legal troubles.
The bill was co-written by Rep. Betty Sutton, Ohio Democrat, and co-sponsored by Rep. Tom Marino, Pennsylvania Republican.
"Over the years, we've made many great strides ensuring that those who actually participate in these crimes are brought to justice. However, it's not just the active participants that keep this practice alive," Ms. Sutton said. "Every time money changes hands and the demand grows, animals in our community are harmed. This bill will help put an end to that."
The bill also would make it a felony to bring a child to a dog or cock fight. For the past two years, Mr. Vick said he has been working with the Humane Society to talk to children about the dangers of getting involved in dogfights.
"I hate to use it as an excuse, but seeing dogfights as a kid had a huge impact on me," Mr. Vick said. "To see the young kids at fights is astonishing ... there's so much else for them to do."
"By supporting this legislation, I hope we're really sending a message to every kid in the country — and every adult, too — that going down this road of animal fights is a dead-end street. There are no good outcomes," said Wayne Pacelle, Humane Society CEO and president. "Michael's own story has been a very powerful one."
Congress upgraded federal animal-fighting laws in 2007, making it a felony to transport animals used for fighting. The law was updated again in 2008, enhancing the upper limits on jail time for trainers of fight dogs.
"We hope that Congress will give law enforcement additional tools to crack down on the entire cast of characters involved in animal-fighting spectacles," Mr. Pacelle said.
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