August 8 2007 Update on the Dog Fighting Felony Legislation
The Michael Vick dog farm bust has gathered national attention in terms of
the cruelty to dogs and puppies who are shot, smashed, hung, drowned, and
killed in other manners. Idaho and Wyoming are the only two states which
only provide for a misdemeanor penalty. Bill Thompson, Latah County
Prosecutor, has written me a letter making a strong case for the felony
penalty. With such a penalty in place it will be much easier for law
enforcement to pursue those associated with conducting and organizing dog
fighting across state lines. Those opposed to the legislation will tell
you that Prosecutors state that no dog fighting case has been prosecuted
during the past 10 years. And they would be right. Dog fighting is a
secretive subculture and very hard to penetrate. There is certainly enough
anecdotal evidence to indicate that dog fighting exists. We need to send
out a message that dog fighters are not wanted in Idaho.
Jeff Rosenthal, Head of the Idaho Humane Society, recently went on a tour
of with law enforcement officers through the Magic Valley. They spotted
several potential dog fighting establishments which all had suspected drug
houses associated with them. They keep the houses under surveillance,
but drugs are their top priority. Gambling, drugs, money laundering, etc.
are all associated with dog fighting. Jeff and the officers spotted on
operation with about 30 chained pit bulls -- certainly not a Daddy Day Care
Those who operate and conduct dog fighting are not nice people and that is
one of the reasons we have not been able to find a witness to testify.
Jeff will have law enforcement officers from the Magic Valley and other
areas willing to testify about their knowledge of what they think is
occurring in their area. The Idaho AG will grant witness protection to
someone who comes forward to testify. Once we identify a witness we would
work closely with the AG and law enforcement. We would be able to video
tape the interview and the witness can wear a ski mask and use a voice
modulator. I know that Radio Station KBOI reports they have on witness who
called in and they are going to get a lot of publicity out on this. Rep.
Marv Hagedorn, Meridian, is working with me to craft a new piece of
legislation. I talked with Sen. Brad Little today. He is supportive of
the legislation. He has talked with Sen. Denton Darrington, Chair of the
Senate Jud and Rules Committee, and we plan to introduce the bill on the
Senate side. Apparently, Senate Leadership is okay with this. I have also
been in contact with the Governor's Office. If we could get the Governor's
support this would be a solid step forward.
Here are some of the steps that I would recommend to supporters of the
1. Contact your local legislators for their support. Get groups of local
voters together and ask for a meeting with your legislators.
2. Letters of support from businesses, organizations, etc. would also be
a powerful tool. We also need to get the support of sportsman
organizations, i.e. Duck's Unlimited, dog associations, etc. Letters can
be addressed to the Governor's Office, individual legislators, newspapers,
etc. I'd like to get a copy.
3. Messages to the Governor and his wife, Lori, will be helpful.
4. Dr. Jeff Rosenthal, Director of the Idaho Humane Society and Director
of the Boise Animal Shelter, is coordinating many of the major efforts and
contacts in the state. His phone is 208-484-3051 and e mail
The bottom line is that we want to send a strong message to dog fighters-
Not in Idaho.e