Saturday, July 7, 2007

Feds Search NFL Star's Property Again for Dog Fighting Evidence

Federal authorities conducted a second search of the property of Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick in Virginia for evidence of dog fights conducted on the property.  According to documents filed in connection with the search, the property was used as a staging area for housing and training pit bulls used in fights.  An AP story (here) states that a backhoe dug up a 200-square foot area, apparently looking for carcasses of dogs used in fights.  The federal involvement comes on top of a local investigation of the use of Vick's property for dog fights, and he has denied any involvement in the exhibitions.  Like so many areas today, the use of animals for fighting is a federal offense under 7 U.S.C. Sec. 2156(a)(1), which provides "it shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly sponsor or exhibit an animal in an animal fighting venture, if any animal in the venture was moved in interstate or foreign commerce."  The maximum penalty for a violation was increased from one to three years in the Animal Fighting Prohibition Act that Congress enacted in May 2007.  Vick is not named in any of the court documents, and it is unclear at this point whether there is any evidence of his involvement in a dog fighting operation.  The NFL is likely to take a close look at what was going on at his property, and may take action against him even if there is no criminal prosecution. (ph)

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