UPDATE - Michael Vick tweeted about the bill's success to his 1.6 million followers on Wednesday: "In 2010 I helped @HumaneSociety introduce an animal welfare bill to Congress.Last night the Senate passed it. I hope the House passes it too."
Leave it to the dogs to break the logjam on Capitol Hill.
Well, maybe on one piece of legislation anyway.
Animal welfare groups are applauding the Senate passage yesterday of the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act. The bipartisan legislation closes loopholes in the federal animal fighting law related to attendance at dogfights and cockfights.
Federal law already makes it a felony to stage animal fights, possess or train animals for fighting, or move animals or cockfighting implements in interstate commerce - as Eagles quarterback Michael Vick did - for fighting purposes.
The new act would prohibit attendance at organized animal fights, cracking down on the spectators who finance animal fights with their admission fees and gambling wagers, and impose additional penalties for bringing a child to those events.
“Spectators enable the crime of animal fighting, make the enterprise profitable through admission fees and wagering, and help conceal and protect the handlers and organizers,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. “If we are serious about cracking down on the barbaric practice of animal fighting, law enforcement must have the tools to crack down on the entire cast of characters involved in these criminal enterprises.”
Vick, whose role in a multi-state dog fighting ring landed him in federal prison for 18 months, spoke out in support of the bill with HSUS at a Capitol Hill press conference in 2011.
The bill must still be approved by the House before the end of the session. The House version of the bill was introduced by Pennsylvania Rep. Tom Marino.
The ASPCA, which also fought to the anti-dog fighting bill, noted the Senate passage of an amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill aimed at helping retired military service dogs.