Tuesday, February 26, 2008

New Idaho Dogfighting Law

I am pleased to report that Governor Otter has signed a bill (and of course, the Idaho House and Senate have passed a bill) which makes dog fighting a felony in Idaho. The bill was carried by Brad Little, a more conservative Legislator and a rancher.

Idaho has long lagged behind the times in terms of animal protection laws. The Animal Legal Defense Fund has consistently rated Idaho as one of the five worst states in terms of animal protection laws. With a strong rancher mentality and strong lobbyists from the cattleman's association and the sheepherders association, it's safe to say the Idaho Legislature (and Governor) are not animal conservation or animal rights motivated. But, they do cave to political pressure - so while they are anxious to hunt and kill off wolves, they succumbed to public pressure in light of the Michael Vick case and made tougher penalties for dog fighting. Too bad they ignored the huge cock (rooster) fighting problem that exists in Idaho, particularly in some areas with large Hispanic populations.

Another minor bill involving penalties for animal cruelty is in the works. This one, sponsored by Democrat Kate Kelly (much less influential than Brad Little) appears to be doing very well also. It clarifies that you can be guilty of animal cruelty to animals you don't own. Another small step in the right direction.

Idaho still has huge problems with spay and neuter (lack thereof), inadequate shelters, only one no-kill shelter for cats with another in the works for hopefully cats and dogs, and no requirement for rabies vaccine outside the Boise are. Cock fighting is a major problem as well. Also, breed prejudice exists and Payette and Fruitland have, idiotically, banned pit bulls. (There is not a good way to challenge these particular breed bans in these jurisdictions, despite their failed logic and bad public policy and increase to taxpayers). There are also huge dairies, CAFOs (Confined Animal Feeding Operations), etc. The State is not very progressive on animal issues in general, suffice it to say.

The photo above is one of the pit mix puppies for adoption at the Idaho Humane Society currently. I fostered a pit bull two summers ago and he was one of the sweetest puppies ever. There are many every week available for adoption. At least there's a bit more protection, as of July, for dogs trapped in dogfighting if their exploiters can be caught. Now we have to hope law enforcement takes it seriously.

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