Sen. O’Brien introduces bills to crack down on animal fighting

LANSING, Mich. — Senator Margaret O’Brien, R-Portage, on Tuesday announced the introduction of legislation that would crack down on animal fighters and organizers.

“People who engage in this brutal degradation of animals after already being caught must be shown that there is no place for such cruel acts anywhere in Michigan,” said Sen. O’Brien, sponsor of Senate Bills 413 and 414. “The punishment for animal fighting must fit the crime, and we must ensure our laws properly sentence and deter people from engaging in such a barbaric activity.”

SBs 413 and 414 would establish that animal fighters and organizers convicted of their second offense would be guilty of a felony and receive a mandatory minimum sentence of no less than 18 months and no more than four years. They also would be fined $5,000 to $50,000 and/or receive 500 to 1,000 hours of community service.

Those who attend fights, breed animals, or who fight or sell equipment for such fights would, on their second offense, be charged with a felony and receive a mandatory minimum sentence of no less than nine months and no more than four years. They also would be fined $1,000 to $5,000 and/or receive 250 to 500 hours of community service.

A person with any conviction for animal fighting or organizing would receive a five-year ban on owning the same type of animal species involved. Any person in violation of this ban would be guilty of a misdemeanor and be punished by up to one year or fined $1,000 to $2,500. Each animal that a person owns or possesses in violation of the ban would constitute a separate offense.

“Even though Michigan has one of the strongest animal fighting laws in the nation, repeat offenders are often given probation or meager sentences,” said Lydia Sattler, Michigan state director for the Humane Society of the United States. “The punishment should fit the crime, and animal fighting is a violent crime that brutalizes animals, degrades entire communities, and involves other illegal activities such as drug and weapons trafficking. We applaud Senator Margaret O’Brien for sponsoring legislation to ensure that repeat offenders receive meaningful punishment.”

The bills have been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee for further consideration.

Rep. Brandt Iden has introduced companion legislation, House Bill 4669, in the House of Representatives.

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