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A charge under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) for animal fighting activities in violation of 7 USC § 2156 would have carried only a maximum penalty of one year per violation.
“In or about April 2007, PEACE, PHILLIPS, and VICK executed approximately 8 dogs that did not perform well in ‘testing’ sessions …The Michael Vick case illustrates many attributes common to the dozens of organized dogfighting cases the Animal Legal Defense Fund has seen over the years: Michael Vick, then 21, began his rookie year as a professional football player the same year he and three associates – Purnell Peace, Quanis Phillips and Tony Taylor – began a dogfighting operation named “Bad Newz Kennels” at a property purchased by Vick in Surry County, Virginia.They bought dogs in Virginia and other states and brought them to the new facility. The co-conspirators set up the property for a dogfighting venture.The following is an excerpt from a news article describing the charges: [Surry County Commonwealth Attorney Gerald] Poindexter said he pursued the case because “crimes that were not prosecuted were committed in Surry County.” But he would not say whether his prosecutors put Vick’s federal court admission that he killed dogs before the grand jury. Only one dog was recommended for euthanasia because of extreme aggression. Huss, Professor of Law at Valparaiso University School of Law, as the guardian/special master to advise the Court regarding the final disposition of the remaining 48 seized dogs.The others were deemed suitable to go to sanctuaries or foster homes for socialization training. Per her recommendation, the dogs were eventually dispersed to eight rescue organizations for adoption, rehabilitation or lifetime care in sanctuaries, where they have been neutered.