In-Humane Society?

By: Ryan Dearbone Email
By: Ryan Dearbone Email

Dogfighting has been one of the top headlines in 2007.

Pro football player Michael Vick is currently awaiting sentencing for his part in a major dogfighting ring in Virginia called "Bad Newz Kennels."

Vick's illegal dogfighting ring is one of hundreds around the country.

More than 40,000 Americans engage in dogfighting every year leaving hundreds of dogs are maimed or killed.

So how are "man's best friends" being subjected to such torture?

The entire nation held its breath as one of its most heralded athletes came under fire for fighting and killing pit bulls.

The "sport" which pits dogs against each other in a fight for their lives is hardly what most people would imagine doing.

"Anytime there's an offense that captures the attention of people nationally, it causes pause for everyone to look at the laws and make sure you have laws for effective prosecution," says Chris Cohron, Warren County commonwealth attorney.

Cohron says when it comes to fighting animals, other issues are usually involved.

"A lot of times you will see drugs and gambling that go hand-in-hand with dogfighting," Cohron explained.

Roxie Ross, Bowling Green Animal Control officer, says in her experiences with animal cruelty, dogfighting could be anywhere.

"There are pit bull fights in every area of the United States and I'm sure that there's some here in Bowling Green also," Ross noted.

"I have people ask me on a weekly basis, 'Does this really still happen?' It does. It happens in our backyard," assured Lorri Hare, director of the Bowling Green-Warren County Humane Society.

Hare has seen firsthand the results of dogfighting in our area.

"One of them was completely lifeless. She had lost a lot of blood. She had a tremendous amount of old scars and new scars on her--dried blood all over her body," Hare described.

Hare says on an almost weekly basis the shelter receives dogs with physical scarring that comes from dogfighting.

But finding these dogfighting rings is a challenge of its own.

"The problem is, its such a secretive thing that when it does happen its in a very, very rural area. Its a very tight-knit group. Not a lot of strangers get to attend something like that," Hare said.

"Even being present at the dogfight, that is a criminal law offense. Your witnesses are also people that have violated Kentucky law," Cohron agreed.

Most of the time, participants use in-humane ways to dispose of the dogs that don't perform well.

"People think the dogs, if they don't win and they can't make them any money, they just dispose of them and throw them on the side of the road--sometimes worse," Hare said.

Since these canines can't speak for themselves, the crime becomes extremely difficult to prove and even harder to prosecute.

Cohron says most of the time successfully prosecuting this crime rests squarely on the guilty unknowingly putting the evidence in the hands of the law.

"There's been many occasions these events are taped. That is a very damning piece of evidence," Cohron assured.

Despite it's disturbing nature, Cohron believes the high-profile status could spell problems for those mixed up in dogfighting.

"It puts everyone on notice. It has put everyone on notice that these cases will be treated severely and that there's no tolerance for this type of action," Cohron said.

Since January, at least three different bills calling for the end of dogfighting have been presented to the United States Congress.

On the web:

Dogfighting Fact Sheet

To see a chart breaking down cruelty types by state, click here

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  • by James Location: Horse Cave on Nov 4, 2007 at 03:53 PM
    I read that the commonwealth attorney said anyone involved with dog fighting would be treated severly so I would like to know what happened to the person who was just charged with dog fighting, it seems like 6 mo is a very light sentence.
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