Ensuring Effective Tools for a Challenging Task: Amending the Animal Welfare Act's Animal Fighting Venture Civil Asset Forfeiture Provision
40 Pages Posted: 28 Aug 2017
Date Written: August 25, 2017
The tenth anniversary of the Michael Vick/Bad Newz Kennels dog fighting case is in 2017. As the guardian/special master appointed by the judge in the case, I had the opportunity to interact with the victims of this abuse and recommend the placement of the dogs with eight different rescue organizations. That case was a turning point in how dogs are treated as part of federal dog fighting cases. Historically dogs were considered merely evidence that would generally be euthanized once the evidence was no longer necessary to support the prosecution. Now it is common for the government to provide for a process where the dogs are individually evaluated to determine whether re-homing is possible. This change in policy reinforces the need for an efficient and effective forfeiture proceeding to ensure that the dogs involved have the best chance for placement.
The Article begins by tracing the history of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), focusing on the animal fighting provisions to put the issue of prosecuting animal fighting ventures at the federal level in context. The Article continues by discussing the general structure of asset forfeiture provisions under federal law. It considers arguments made by both proponents and opponents of these laws, as well as legislation addressing some of those concerns. The Article then focuses on the federal civil asset forfeiture provision of the AWA and recent legislation that specifically targets this provision. It concludes with recommendations for passing proposed legislation relating to civil asset forfeiture and cost reimbursement provisions that would serve to support the prosecution of animal fighting ventures.
Keywords: Dog, Dog Fighting, Animal Fighting, Animal Welfare Act, Asset Forfeiture
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