Perdue Signs Dogfighting Bill

ATLANTA (AP) _ Animal rights groups are applauding a new law that toughens penalties for dog fighting in Georgia. They credit Michael Vick, the Atlanta Falcons quarterback serving time for running a brutal pit bull ring, with making it possible.

Paul Berry, CEO of the Best Friends Animal Society, which helped write the Georgia law, said "Vick has been the best thing to happen to pit bulls for a long time.''

Governor Sonny Perdue signed the bill into law at a state Capitol ceremony yesterday. Perdue is a former veterinarian who owns two dogs.

The new law took effect immediately and makes it a crime to attend a dog fight or to breed the animals for fighting. It also becomes illegal to possess a dog with the intent to fight the animal. That makes its easier for authorities to bust dog fighting rings because they no longer have to catch fights in progress.

A Humane Society official said Georgia's dog fighting laws had been among the weakest in the nation.