Monday, December 29, 2008

New Statewide Animal Fighting Tip Line - FLORIDA

TALLAHASSEE, FL -- Florida is borrowing from its neighbor to the north in an attempt to end dogfighting.

In early 2008, in the wake of Michael Vick's dogfighting conviction, Georgia's legislature passed a bill toughening up its dogfighting laws.

Shortly after that, the Humane Society opened up an anonymous tip line for concerned citizens to call in about dogfighting, with the possibility of a reward up to $5,000.

Today, Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum announced that the Humane Society is opening up the tip line in Florida as well.

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) estimates that Florida is one of the top 3 states nationally where dogfighting operations exist.

"The mix of a dedicated tip line for animal fighting investigations and a reward program is a winning combination," says Laura Bevan, director of the HSUS Southeast regional office.

The reward program (also up to $5,000) has been in place since May, and Attorney General McCollum is a strong advocate of adding the tip line to the reward program.

"Animal fighting is a cruel and criminal behavior often associated with gang activity and other violence," he says, adding, "Now Floridians will have an easy, anonymous way to help make their neighborhoods safer and perhaps receive a substantial reward for their efforts."

Anyone who identifies any sort of animal fighting (dogfighting, cockfighting, etc.) is encouraged to call 1-877-TIP-HSUS (847-4787). It is an anonymous call.

In the first year of the tip line in Georgia, there have been over 1,000 calls, leading to 11 arrests.

In the last 3 months here on the First Coast, there have been 5 people arrested in 2 separate instances of what police believe to be dogfighting, involving well over 100 dogs.

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