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Dogfighting, Michael Vick, pit bulls and your neighborhood

Michael Vick is in prison after pleading guilty to dogfighting charges at the federal level.  Today, a judge assigned him a court date of April 2nd to face similar state charges.

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The case has gathered immense publicity since it broke in late April 2007.  Vick, after all, had been a premier NFL quarterback (perhaps the premier NFL quarterback), selected to multiple Pro-Bowls and signer of the largest contract in NFL history.

A dogfighting ring that he and several associates had run based at Vick’s house in Virginia was big news, to say the least.  Within months, he was suspended without pay by the NFL, released by his endorsers, and ordered to pay back $19.9 million dollars in contract bonuses.

Vick pled guilty to federal charges, and is expected to be sentenced December 10th, but now prosecutors are also bringing state charges.  Vick’s attorneys hope to avoid further damages, invoking the principle of double jeopardy, but the issue is far from settled.

State
Insurance requirement
Categorizes fighting dogs as vicious
Florida none
yes
Georgia $15000 requirement
yes
Michigan sufficient

no

Minnesota $50,000 requirement
no
Nevada determined by county
no
New Hampshire $100,000 requirement
no
New Jersey determined by municipal court

yes

New York determined by the court, no more than $100,000

no

North Carolina none
yes
Ohio determined by the court
no
Oklahoma $50,000 requirement
no
Pennsylvania $50,000 requirement
no
Rhode Island $100,000 requirement
no
South Carolina $50,000 requirement
no
Texas $100,000 requirement
no
Virginia $100,000 requirement
no
all others none
no

Insure.com has explored the potential problems with owning a so-called “vicious breed” of dog—precisely the breeds preferred by dogfighting rings.  Some insurers will rate up homeowner’s policies for owners of certain breeds.

There is more relevant, however, that the average consumer might not realize.  An issue you may not have considered is the difference between states.  Certain states simply regulate the dogfighting itself.  Other states also define dogs from dogfighting rings as “dangerous animals,” and specify their treatment and regulation.

Some states also require a liability insurance policy with minimum funds to pay out in case of a dangerous pet’s attacking another person.  These must be considered in context with the insurance companies who may rate up for certain “dangerous breeds.”  In some states, it is legally required to purchase at least $100,000 in coverage for a dog that has been ruled “dangerous” or “vicious.”

The table above contains further information.

The states are also different in their regulation of dogfighting.  There has been some hubbub, for example, over the fact that Virginia, where Vick may be tried, has the 37th toughest dogfighting laws in the country.

The Humane Society of the United States categorized the states according to the felony/misdemeanor status of three activities: Dogfighting, watching a dogfight, and owning a dog for fighting.

Wyoming and Idaho do not recognize dogfighting as a felony, whereas in 17 states, it is a felony to so much as watch a dogfight.  So be aware of the rules in your neck of the woods, since more dangerous, trained fighting dogs can be found in some areas than others.

Also, don’t run a vicious dog-fighting ring out of your mansion, especially if you have tens of millions of dollars to lose by it.

State
Dogfighting
Spectator at a Dogfight
Possession of Dogs for Fighting
Rank
 
First Tier: Three Felony Provisions
 
NJ Crime of the 3rd degree Crime of the 3rd degree Crime of the 3rd degree 1
3-5 years 3-5 years 3-5 years
Max $15,000 Max $15,000 Max $15,000
 
AL Class C Felony Class C Felony Class C Felony 2
1-10 years 1-10 years 1-10 years
Max of $5,000 Max of $5,000 Max of $5,000
 
CO Class 5 Felony Class 5 Felony Class 5 Felony 3
1-3 years 1-3 years 1-3 years
$1,000 - $100,000 $1,000 - $100,000 $1,000 - $100,000
 
MS Felony Felony Felony 4
1-3 years Max 1 year 1-3 years
$1,000 - $5,000 $500 - $5,000 $1,000 - $5,000
 
AZ Class 5 Felony Class 6 Felony Class 5 Felony 5
9 mo. – 2 years 6 mo – 1 ½ years 9 mo. – 2 years
Max $150,000 Max $150,000 Max $150,000
 
OH 4th Degree Felony 4th Degree Felony 4th Degree Felony 6
6 – 18 months 6 – 18 months 6 – 18 months
$5,000
$5,000
$5,000
 
NC Class H Felony Class H Felony Class H Felony 7
4-8mo. – 5-10 mo 4-8mo. – 5-10 mo 4-8mo. – 5-10 mo
 
PA 3rd Degree Felony 3rd Degree Felony 3rd Degree Felony 8
Max 7 years Max 7 years Max 7 years
Max $15,000 Max $15,000 Max $15,000
 
NH Class B Felony Class B Felony Class B Felony 9
Max 7 years Max 7 years Max 7 years
Max $4,000 Max $4,000 Max $4,000
 
NE Class IV felony Class IV felony Class IV felony 10
Max 5 years Max 5 years Max 5 years
Max $10,000 Max $10,000 Max $10,000
 
WA Class C Felony Class C Felony Class C Felony 11
Max 5 years Max 5 years Max 5 years
Max $10,000 Max $10,000 Max $10,000
 
CT Felony Felony Felony 12
Max 5 years Max 5 years Max 5 years
Max $5,000 Max $5,000 Max $5,000
 
FL 3rd degree Felony 3rd degree Felony 3rd degree Felony 12
Max 5 years Max 5 years Max 5 years
Max $5,000 Max $5,000 Max $5,000
 
VT Felony Felony Felony 12
Max 5 year Max 5 year Max 5 year
Max $5,000 Max $5,000 Max $5,000
 
MI Felony Felony Felony 15
Max 4 years Max 4 years Max 4 years
$5,000 - $50,000 $1,000 - $5,000 $5,000 - $50,000
500 – 100 hours community service 250 – 500 hours community service 500 – 100 hours community service
 
RI Felony Felony Felony 16
Max 2 years Max 2 years Max 2 years
Max $1,000 Max $1,500 Max $1,000
 
NM 4th Degree Felony 4th Degree Felony 4th Degree Felony 17
18 months 18 months 18 months
Max $5,000 Max $5,000 Max $5,000
 
Second Tier: Two Felony Provisions
 
IL Class 4 Felony Class A Misdemeanor Class 4 Felony 18
1-3 years Max 1 year 1-3 years
Max $25,000 Max $2,500 Max $25,000
 
MN Felony Misdemeanor Felony 19
Min 1 year 1 day Max 90 days Min 1 year 1 day
  Max $1,000  
 
OK Felony Misdemeanor Felony 20
1-10 years Max 1 year 1-10 years
$2,000 - $25,000 Max $500 $2,000 - $25,000
 
LA Felony Misdemeanor Felony 21
1-10 years Max 6 months 1-10 years
$1,000 - $25,000 Max $500 $1,000 - $25,000
 
TN Class E Felony Class C Misdemeanor Class E Felony 22
1-6 years Max of 30 days 1-6 years
Max $3,000 Max $50 Max $3,000
 
KS Level 10 nonperson felony Class B nonperson misdemeanor Level 10 nonperson felony 23
1-5 years Max 6 mo 1-5 years
Max $100,000 Max $ 1,000 Max $100,000
 
KY Class D Felony Class A Misdemeanor Class D Felony 24
1 – 5 years Max 12 months 1 – 5 years
$1,000 - $10,000 Max $500 $1,000 - $10,000
 
IN Class D Felony Class A Misdemeanor Class D Felony 25
6 mo – 3 years Max 1 year 6 mo – 3 years
Max $10,000 Max $5,000 Max $10,000
 
MO Class D Felony Class A Misdemeanor Class D Felony 26
Max 10 years Min 6 months Max 10 years
 
AR Class D Felony Class A Misdemeanor Class D Felony 27
Max 6 years Max 1 year Max 6 years
Max $10,000 Max $1,000 Max $10,000
 
OR Class C Felony Class A Misdemeanor Class C Felony 28
Max 5 years Max 1 year Max 5 years
Max $125,000 Max $6,250 Max $125,000
 
AK Class C Felony Violation Class C Felony 29
Max 5 years No jail time Max 5 years
Max $50,000 Max $500 Max $50,000
 
DC Felony Misdemeanor Felony 30
Max 5 years Max 180 days Max 5 years
Max $25,000 Max $1,000 Max $25,000
 
UT 3rd Degree Felony Class B misdemeanor 3rd Degree Felony 31
Max 5 years 6 months Max 5 years
Max $25,000 Max $1,000 Max $25,000
 
IA Class D Felony Aggravated misdemeanor Class D Felony 32
Max 5 years Max 2 years Max 5 years
$750 - $7,500 $500 - $5,000 $750 - $7,500
 
ND Class C Felony Class A Misdemeanor Class C Felony 33
Max 5 years Max 1 year Max 5 years
Max $5,000 Max $2,000 Max $5,000
 
SC Felony Misdemeanor Felony 34
Must be 5 years or $5000 or both Must be 6 mo or $500 or both Must be 5 years or $5000 or both
 
MA Felony equivalent Misdemeanor equivalent Felony equivalent 35
Max 5 years (state prison) or Max 1 month Max 5 years (state prison) or
Max 1 year (house of correction) Max $250 Max 1 year (house of correction)
Max $1,000   Max $1,000
 
ME Class C crime Class D crime Class C crime 36
Court must impose a fine of $500 max, in addition to: Max 1 year Court must impose a fine of $500 max: in addition to:
Max 5 years Max $2,000 Max 5 years
Max $5,000   Max $5,000
 
VA Class 6 felony Class 1 misdemeanor Class 6 felony 37
Max 5 years Max 12 months Max 5 years
Max $2,500 Max $2,500 Max $2,500
 
WI Class I Felony Class A misdemeanor Class I Felony 38
Max 3 years, 6 months Max 9 months Max 3 years, 6 months
Max $10,000 Max $10,000 Max $10,000
 
CA Felony Misdemeanor Felony 39
16 mo or 2 or 3 years Max 6 mo 16 mo or 2 or 3 years
Max $50,000 Max $1,000 Max $50,000
 
MD Felony Misdemeanor Felony 40
Max 3 years Max 90 days Max 3 years
Max $5,000 Max $1,000 Max $5,000
 
DE Class F Felony Class A Misdemeanor Class F Felony 41
Max 3 years Max 1 year Max 3 years
Discretionary fine Max $2,300 Discretionary fine
 
SD Class 6 Felony Class 1 Misdemeanor Class 6 Felony 42
Max 2 years Max 1 year Max 2 years
Max $4,000 Max $2,000 Max $4,000
 
Third Tier: One Felony Provision
 
WV Felony Misdemeanor Misdemeanor 43
1-5 years Max 1 year Max 6 months
$1,000-$5,000 $100-$1,000 $300-$2,000
 
NY Felony Misdemeanor Misdemeanor 44
Max 4 years Max 1 year Max 1 year
Max $25,000 Max $1,000 Max $15,000
 
TX State jail felony Class A misdemeanor Class A misdemeanor 45
180 days – 2 years Max 1 year Max 1 year
  Max $4,000 Max $4,000
 
Fourth Tier: Allows Possession or Spectators
 
MT Felony Legal Felony 46
1-5 years 1-5 years
Max $5,000 Max $5,000
 
HI Class C Felony Legal Class C Felony 47
Max 5 years Max 5 years
Max $10,000 Max $10,000
 
NV Category D Felony Misdemeanor Legal 48
1-4 years Max 6 months
Max $5,000 Max $1,000
 
Fifth Tier: Allows Possession and Spectators
 
GA Felony Legal Legal 49
1-5 years
Max $ 5,000
 
Sixth Tier: Misdemeanor Only
 
WY High Misdemeanor Misdemeanor High Misdemeanor 50
Max 1 year Max 6 months Max 1 year
Max $5,000 Max $750 Max $5,000
 
ID Misdemeanor Legal Legal  
Max 6 months  
$100 - $5,000  
Courtesy of The Humane Society of the United States
 

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