ATLANTA – State lawmakers have found the face they need to rally support for anti-dogfighting legislation: Willie Nelson.
The country music legend and animal lover has filmed a public service announcement that could appear on television and radio soon. It supports a state Senate bill that would make it a felony for anyone to sell, trade or transport dogs for the purpose of dogfighting.
In the spot, over the strains of "Georgia on My Mind," Nelson looks into the camera and makes his appeal for the bill.
"Dogfighting is against the law in Georgia, but the laws are so weak, the beautiful state of Georgia has become a haven for dogfighters from around the country," he says.
The singer was asked to shoot the PSA by the Utah-based Best Friends Animal Society, a national animal welfare organization that produced the piece. State Sen. Chip Rogers --a Woodstock Republican who wrote the legislation long before Vick's involvement in dogfighting became public -- hopes to get the spot on TV and radio around the time of the Dec. 10 sentencing for suspended Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick.
Vick pleaded guilty in August to a federal dogfighting conspiracy charge after his three co-defendants pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with authorities. Police say he bankrolled a dogfighting ring out of his Virginia mansion.
The Georgia bill passed unanimously in the Senate last session. It will go before a House committee in January.
"What we want to do is create awareness of how bad the laws are in Georgia to protect dogs," Rogers said. "I think this will go a long way to help people be aware of that."