Willie Nelson's PSA against dog fighting

Willie Nelson, who personified the "outlaw" movement in country music, has joined with Best Friends to crack down on real outlaws.

Willie Nelson PSA against dog fighting

Nelson recently taped a public service announcement (PSA) supporting legislation that would strengthen Georgia’s dog-fighting law.

The PSA will begin airing on television and radio stations throughout the state to coincide with the Dec. 10 sentencing of Michael Vick on federal dog-fighting crimes. Vick was the popular quarterback of the Atlanta Falcons before he was brought down by revelations about his involvement in dog fighting.

The spots will also run in January when Georgia lawmakers convene to once again consider the bill, which has been around in one form or another for the past few years. The bill would make it a felony for anyone to sell, train or transport dogs for the purpose of dog fighting.

In the 2007 legislative session, the state Senate voted unanimously to pass the measure, and its author is hopeful the House will follow suit in the upcoming session. "My goal is to have this passed and to the governor by the end of January," said state senator Chip Rogers, whose district is about 30 miles north of Atlanta. "We have become a haven for dog fighting. We do not want to be the dog-fighting capital of the U.S.

"It was especially sad that it took what happened with Vick to heighten awareness. Everyone in Georgia now realizes that dog fighting is a serious crime, and I just hope we can turn something that was so bad into something good."

Best Friends' support of tougher dog fighting laws

Best Friends is lending its support as part of the effort to ensure that all states have uncompromising laws in place to deter and punish those who engage in this blood sport. Our hope is that success in Georgia will serve as a model for other states with inadequate dog-fighting laws.

Besides wiping out the cruelty and brutality of dog fighting, effective laws would also bolster the Best Friends goal of No More Homeless Pets. A substantial percentage of shelter dogs were bred and trained to fight but then discarded when they refused or were no longer physically able to fight. In most cases, fighting dogs are difficult to place in homes.

Willie Nelson, animal advocate

Willie Nelson is an American icon whose singing and songwriting career has spanned 50 years and includes numerous awards and honors. He has also been a committed advocate for animal, environmental and social causes – in particular, the Farm Aid concerts. He is on the board of directors of Habitat for Horses and has adopted a number of horses from the organization. He has campaigned for passage of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act.

Nelson taped the dog-fighting PSA inside his tour bus while in Las Vegas for a concert at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.

"Willie could not have been more gracious," says Jon Dunn, a campaign specialist for Best Friends. "Willie has an enormous amount of compassion for animals, and we couldn’t be happier that he decided to join forces with us and the thousands of people across Georgia who want to see a tougher law."

Dog fighting in Georgia

In the video, Nelson begins by saying, "Dog fighting is against the law in Georgia, but the laws are so weak, the beautiful state of Georgia has become a haven for dog fighters from around the country."

Then, the man who needs no introduction introduces himself and says that, along with Best Friends, he is "asking my friends and neighbors in Georgia to help close the loopholes in the state’s dog-fighting laws." Nelson concludes by declaring, "It’s time to end the senseless torture of man’s best friend."

Sen. Rogers says, "I can’t tell you how much I appreciate his help on this. I’m becoming a bigger fan every day."

Watch Willie Nelson’s video.

Photos by Barry Brecheisen