Nearly 100 Dogs Seized Across Three States
In the years since NFL star Michael Vick's conviction on dog-fighting charges, the issue has died down in the public's eye. But a case now unfolding across three states including Texas highlights the continued existence of dog-fighting on a large scale. Last weekend, federal agents with the help of the ASPCA and organizations like the Humane Society of North Texas, carried out a massive raid on a dog fighting operation across parts of Kansas, Missouri, and North Texas. In all 89 dogs were seized in a series of busts in the three states. No arrests have been announced, but the investigation is ongoing.
Matt Bershadker is the senior vice president of the ASPCA's Anti-Cruelty Group, which is assisting in this investigation. He tells KTRH he has seen operations like this one before. "Finding yards of a hundred dogs or more in rural parts of the country is not uncommon," he says. In fact, he says cases like this only shine light on a problem that doesn't get enough attention. "Dog fighting is incredibly prevalent, it's a highly organized criminal activity that's way, way underground and very difficult to infiltrate." That is why uncovering and busting large operations is a team effort among several agencies. "It takes a lot of law enforcement resources and animal welfare resources to bring effective prosecutions and to care for the dogs," he says.
Dog fighting is a felony in all 50 states, and Congress is considering a bill known as the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act, which would make it a federal crime to attend an organized animal fight or to bring a minor to a fight. While lawmakers, law enforcement and animal welfare groups continue to combat animal fighting, there is a role for the public as well. "If you see animal abuse or see signs that are suspicious for cruelty or neglect, please contact your local authorities," says Bershadker. "This crime is a crime that often brings with it drugs and guns and other very, very violent activities."
Check out the ASPCA's Ten Ways To End Dog Fighting.