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Cockfighting soon to be felony crime in Virginia


Virginia’s state Senate this week approved tougher laws against dog fighting and cockfighting. The state is where NFLstar Michael Vick ran his dogfighting operation.

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine supports the legislation, which passed the Senate unanimously on Monday and previously had cleared the House of Delegates. It’s unclear when he would sign it.

Several states have toughened their animal-fighting laws after the high-profile Vick case.

The suspended Atlanta Falcons quarterback is serving a 23- month federal prison term for running a dogfighting conspiracy in Surry County. He admitted bankrolling the dogfighting operation and helping execute dogs that fought poorly.

The bill would make attendance at any organized animal fight, not just dogfights, a felony.

Participating in cockfighting would become a felony. Currently it is a misdemeanor if gambling is involved, but otherwise cockfighting is legal.

The bill contains other provisions regarding how property searches are conducted in animal cruelty cases and the use of substances and equipment to improve the animals’ fighting ability.

A federal law that took effect last year makes animal fighting activities that cross state lines felonies rather than misdemeanors.

Idaho made dogfighting a felony there in a bill signed into law last week, leaving Wyoming as the last state where it is only a misdemeanor.

Cockfighting will be illegal in all states when Louisiana’s ban takes effect in August, and it is a felony in more than 30 states.

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