Thursday, September 23, 2010

when "good guys" fight their dogs

We've been holding onto this topic for months, not sure when or how or if it would ever surface...

Recently, police and humane investigators revealed an infiltration strategy that is loaded with ethical stomach upset. That is, they've confessed to using dogs to infiltrate fighting operations, even going so far as staging them in impromptu rolls as well as big money dog fights in the ring. Their reason for putting their own dogs in harm's way is explained by Terry Mills, veteran Missouri State Highway Patrol officer:.

"We would have never been invited — never gotten anywhere close to them," Mills says. "Especially after Michael Vick, they went from being 'Let's have everybody over and have a good time' to 'If you don't have a dog in the fight, you don't have any business here.'"

We were actually pretty surprised to see the confession in this eight page article in the New Times. We've known about investigation dogs and have provided asylum for our share of the battered survivors, and the atmosphere surrounding their existence has been very hush-hush. This topic has been especially hard for us. Yes - the investigators need a way in to the fights so they can gather the evidence needed to bring the f*ckers down, but when you turn into one of the f*ckers yourself in the meantime? It's been really hard to reconcile.

To add to the sadness, many of the dogs used in this manner end up in terrible condition when they finish their "work" and most have lasting health and behavior problems related to their care and abuse that hinder them for life -- if they get a second chance, that is. In many cases, we've had to euthanize dogs from these situations after giving them compassion holds. They were that bad off.

I can't for the life of me figure out why the investigators have decided to share a video of themselves doing the deed on youtube. It takes this practice out of the realm of the abstract and the dogs' suffering is suddenly presented before our very eyes. is feeling the same way we are about this use of dogs and recently ran an article about the practice with a poll that asks for public opinion.

Tell us what you think. Does saving 500 some dogs from ongoing abuse justify the torture of forty? Is there really no other way? It's one of the more difficult dilemmas of our moment and you can bet the discussion isn't going to get pushed under the carpet. Please tell us what you think. And yes, investigators, we would like to hear from you too.


Brent said...

When I first saw this article on the front page of our alternative newspaper I didn't even know how to react -- and have, purposely not even addressed the topic.

It sickens me -- and yet, does the ends justify the means? I don't know. Clearly a lot of dogs' lives were saved both current and future...but damn, I just don't know how to reconcile it.

J.M. said...

Until the penalties are harsh enough to stop people from being repeat offenders there`s no point in sacrificing 40 to save 500.
If that was a one time occurrence and it would put an end to dog fighting that might be one thing.

But dog fighters are caught and basically released to do it all over again.
Wasn`t some big name fighter just released early?

It would be better to take those 4o dogs into schools and use them to teach the next generation compassion and empathy so they don`t grow up to be dog fighters.

Providing large rewards might be a way to get more people to report dog fighters.
There has to be a better way than sinking to the level of a dog fighter.
Penalties have to be increased.
Obviously they`re not stiff enough.

NorCalRose & Riddick said...

I feel so nieve and I feel sick to my stomach.

The end does NOT justify the means. There is no gray area here. Dog fighting is wrong. The motive is irrelevant,

PV said...

This is like war. We lost so many soldiers in WWII to save what we thought was a lifetime of people. Is this the same? I cannot say definatively what is right. I do know its important to find, stop and prosecute people who fight dogs. and preventing investigators from doing their work is tough unless there is an alternative. What is the alternative? Can they use technology to find a way in? It seems that "boots on the ground" are the way to do covert work. THis is sad, because it takes one to know one. Just like undercover cop work. This process isnt anything new, its just harder when we see the dogs we love being sacrificed for it with no say in the matter.
Perhaps thats the key difference. The dogs dont get to make the choice. And all the while Michael Vick is now the heralded starting quarterback for the Eagles. So much for him being punished.

Christie Keith said...

This makes me want to vomit. It's like bringing a child to a sex party to bust a ring of pedophiles.

Jody said...

No! No! No!
Wrong, there has to be a better way.

Anonymous said...

This is gross and morally wrong. I don't know how you can explain this. With the perspective of time, these actions are cruel and wrong headed.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

WRONG and OUTRAGEOUS!!!! Its never ok to sacrifice a sentient being and allow it to be tortured and ripped apart. Bullshit! So offer people an attractive amount of $$ to tell...use technology, don't use the dogs to get your own thrill. An undercover person who is fighting a dog under the guise of busting dog fighters IS a dog fighter and IS torturing their own animal. NONE of us could ever allow one of our dogs to be fought. PERIOD. There is something wrong with the so called "law enforcement" inner being. When once confronted by men with a gun to give up pit bulls for fights, my inner being took over - NO DISCUSSION, NO THOUGHT NECESSARY, they would need to shoot me to get to the dogs. PERIOD. Anyone allowing any animal to be torn apart is themself an animal abuser, torturer and dog fighter. Otherwise, they could not let it happen. PERIOD - they are themselves morally corrupt.

Lynn in N. Cal

Shelley said...

I find it very hard to believe that the investigators could not find enough CASH to make their way in. Why then would they put a video on Youtube??

I find this shocking and agree with one of the other posts that the 40 could have been used in prevention and advocacy; educating the public both about the breed and the atrocity of dog fighting.


SanDiegoDogMa said...

This reminds me of a short story by Ursula LeGuin, "Those Who Walk Away From Omelas". No, I don't agree with it at all.

Anonymous said...

And what is pitiful is the fraudulent use of public donations only to fund Missouri Humane Society's own dog fighting ring. Wow, how utterly deceptive and contrary to their mission statement. Missouri Humane needs to be prosecuted for embezzling public funds for illegal activities.

gooddogz said...


who wouda thunk it?? said...

I cant bring myself to watch the viseo. So stupid! why would the "investigators" put these poor dogs in harm's way for the sake of busting these dog fighters, and then rat themselves out on You Tube??? what kind of morons would do that??

Rachel L said...

Rachel L.
So people say things like "the ends justify the means", "you can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs" "fight fire with fire" Blah, blah, blah. Aside from the fact that I find the whole thing rather sickening, I guess my biggest question would be, why do the police/investigators need to take it to level where their dogs are severely injured or killed before thay can make an arrest? Is it not possible for them to make the arrest as soon they pay to get into the fight with thier dog? Or make the arrest as soon as the fight begins? Futhermore, if this is supposed to be a "covert" operation, why in the world would you post it on youtube for everyone to see? Doesn't that defeat the pupose? The other thing that confuses me is where the police get their dogs? Do they teach them to fight, or do they acquire fighinting dogs? This is NOT the way to try to fix the problem of fighting. There are so many other resources the police have at their disposal...why use dogs? The sad truth is that dog fighting will always go on. As long as there are people willing to fight them, and people willing to pay, it will not stop. All we can do is try to save as many dogs as we can.

Heidi The Pit Mom said...

I completely disagree with police fighting dogs to infiltrate dog fighting rings and I question the investigator that said it was the only way to document and ultimately prosecute the dog fighters.

If this was a child pornography ring, it would be unthinkable to allow a child to be abused and exploited in order to bust the ring. Yet police investigate, gather necessary evidence, and arrest child pornographers on a continuous basis.

Obviously, they have found an effective way to investigate without using and abusing children.

I think that the police took the easiest way to investigate dog fighting rings by fighting, and therefore abusing, dogs.

The easiest way is not the right way, period.

Melf said...

I don't even know what to say. It is so horrible to think that they would use their own dogs to get inside these groups. I think Christie Keith's analogy had it correct.

Are we not thinking outside the box enough? Isn't there another way in? And, like J.M. mentioned above, what good does it do if the laws just let the assholes free with a slap on the wrist? Those are the questions running through my mind.

gjwriter said...

I can't help but wonder if that's what the police are really doing. I have my doubts about anyone's "ethics". It may be that dog fighting has gone further under ground, but they didn't attend a dog fight to bust Vick. They raided his house. Have the cops gone bad? Maybe.

Joel said...

Actually Shelley, I find it easy to believe that investigators have a hard time coming up with enough cash to get in. A lot of this is happening in rural areas and law enforcement budgets are strapped. I don't think dogfighting is at the point where it will get any excess funds.

That said, the better option to me would seem to be working with a current participant who is in already in trouble who might be looking to get his sentence reduced for cooperation. Same as a drug ring. This is likely not the only criminal activity these guys are involved in.

I am sure that getting into a fight was made exponentially more difficult by the Vick case. If you don't have dogs or a lot of cash, any new face is going to have a very hard time. I don't like this option, but I'm not in law enforcement and don't know how many realistic options exist.

Dianne said...

This just proves Mick Jagger's assertion: every cop is a criminal. I think it is acceptable to use the dogs as in with very strict guidelines, eg. they are never fought. I agree that technology and $$ should take precedent over using the dogs.

We in the DC area are still reeling over the Sept 12 shooting of young, small pibble at a crowded street festival -- by a K9 officer. Just because they wear a badge does not exempt them from charges of animal cruelty.

a.b. said...

There has to be another way. I adopted my dog specifically because his brindle coat labeled him as a pit bull mix and people wanted to adopt him for "protection purposes." In our area that was code for, at best spending his life on a chain, and with the way he turned into an obvious non-pit, life as a bait dog probably waited. After going through so much to keep and protect him I could never justify endangering him.

I can think of three people off the top of my head who might be able to walk into a fight without a dog: someone providing food/booze, an odds maker/bookie, and an animal medic. It seems that bringing a dog in is the quickest way to get in the door. Without it, it might take time to bust people, for a crime a lot of people don't take seriously enough.

Unknown said...

As I am reading the article and the various comments, I stop and pet my Pit bull lying next to me on the couch...So thankful that I am able to give him a good, loving environment. So to put in my "two cents", NO! There's got to be another way. How about tough laws, I mean REALLY tough laws and REALLY stiff punishment for ALL involved in dog fighting. Not just an example with a celebrity, but from the thug on the street to the wealthy...

The Pit Bull Princess said...

I dont need to watch the video to know my answer to this question:


Its not justified. c'mon people, there are other ways to infiltrate and bust these operations without making more dogs suffer.

As one commenter said, it would be like using children to catch pedophiles, or to have undercover cops using cocaine and heroine to bust drug dealers... or having police women get raped to catch "johns" --- we never actually put people in harms way or jeopardy to catch criminals and I don't think we should do it with the dogs either (or any other sentient being) - they deserve the same protection!

This is outrageous and horribly sad.

scargosun said...

I just about threw up when I read this. There is NO reason for this sacrifice when they are just going to slap most of the offenders on the wrist.

Anonymous said...

How awful that they couldn't find another way. My husband is an investigator in Oakland and he has many creative ways of finding out the truth. He has worked on the scene of countless violent crimes and the animal cruelty ones are the ones that haunt him the most. If they asked him to do this he would find another way to get the job done, and if the brass didn't allow that, then he would be out the door.

To Lynn in Nor Cal who said: "There is something wrong with the so called "law enforcement" inner being."

Don't sterotype an entire group of people. Just as with pit bulls, a few bad examples do not define the entire group.

Kerry said...

It's sad that this is considered "questionable" but if cops started selling their kids in the slave trade people would be sending them death threats.

Anonymous said...

Not often that I am speechless but there just had to be another way.
This quote from above just grabbed my attention.
"DO YOU USE A CHILD TO STOP CHILD PORNOGRAPHY?" find other ways to beat this. How can you do onto these dogs what you are trying to stop?

I am just so confused, saddened and outraged at this.


L.W. said...

The use of forty dogs to save - "save" - five hundred does not honor the motto to protect and serve. It is one thing to put oneself, a fully conscious and sentient being, into harm's way; another entirely to make a choice for a being that ultimately cannot. I cannot feel good about an undercover operation that harms those it is also trying to save.

andre said...

police use other police men and women posing as prostitutes to catch people committing crimes. But they do not expect the men and women to actually have sex for money. There is no way they could justify this - even if were proven to catch more criminals.

Cindy Steinle said...

You know I dont know. I am so torn on this. We need the folks in there busting, but do we need to injure and harm the dogs in the way. Putting the video on you tube however is a braggart thing. Those officers are done. They are too involved. Time for them to switch investigations.

My heart says how horribly wrong this is, but knowing how the fighters thing, knowing how much harder it has become to infiltrate. My mind can see the logic.

I wonder, having spoke to old school dogmen who have left the "game" because of the increased violence and lack of value placed on the animals life, would they be able to help with out the use of a dog. Dog fighters have heroes too. We received money from an old school dogman 2 years ago for one of our sanctuary dogs. Maybe a hero to the fighters could turn the tables and be a hero to the dogs.

Its so hard to say yes or no. My years of pibble rescue have shown me the logic, but my heart now has the little red dog in it. My home now has an ex fighter in it. With all of her personality and all that it took to work with her.

I dont know, is what I am saying.

PBOforlife said...

I find this disgusting. If they even mentioned using children to bust a child porn ring, the country would be in an outrage. So sad the same is not true for the dogs. It looks like the moral compass of law enforcement is falling away. So sad for all involved.

Unknown said...

If this was something you knew about, have you spoken up against (or for) it before? I'm curious why, if rescuers knew, they have remained silent. I may very well be missing something rational, as my emotional side is a little on the flabbergasted side.

I'm not sure why it's a difficult dilemma. Dogs don't get a choice. They do not get to opt-out or opt-in. They are treated as commodities, regardless of who is at the other end of the leash - "investigators" or the dog fighters. They deserve better. Inflicting suffering to alleviate suffering is incongruous.

If we honestly want to live in a world that has the alleged good guys FIGHTING dogs, flinging them into pits of blood and suffering, laughing/joking at their pain all for a "bust"...well, that isn't a society I want to be a part of. No more than I would if we decided to try and end child sex trafficking by volunteering our own childrens' bodies to save other children.

Surely as smart as we are, we can do better. We certainly can't create a more humane world by inflicting such savagery and callous disregard on dogs we claim to love and respect. There is ALWAYS another way. Always. Using dogs as fighting machines should NEVER be an option.

Vicky said...

I am completely appalled by this behavior. There are no "good guys" here, just legal dog fighters and illegal dog fighters.

Kate said...

This is very, very upsetting. I'm not even going to click on that video, because I don't want to know what I would see. I understand that it's incredibly hard to find ways to bust these fighting operations, but that doesn't mean innocent dogs should be brought in and FOUGHT. Ugh, it makes me feel ill. I don't believe that the ends justify the means. Dogs should never, ever, ever be fought. Not even police dogs. We need to find a better way.

ES said...

I've thought about this alot... in the end, it's wrong. They turned into the people they (supposedly) hate. It's all part of the "dogfighters are criminal masterminds" b.s. that has promoted the dogfighters image to the detriment of our dogs. And of course boosted the ego's of the lawmen and HSUS. I refuse to believe there was no other way to catch these cretins. Donna probably knows even more, and far worse, that she can't reveal about the horrible fate of the valiant dogs that were victimized and abused to "end" dogfighting.

Donna said...

Rinalia - your laser beam brain is always refreshing. To answer, gag orders come along with working on any case, federal cases especially. We talk when the time is right.

This practice has been a big concern within our smaller circle of outspoken activists, altho most rescuers - who are low men on the total pole in the scheme of things - are unaware. In fact, there's been so much celebrating of the MO dogs that I doubt many would've believed (or wanted to believe) the dark side of the case. The part that makes it such a difficult dilemma is that it's been sanctioned and institutionalized by those who are claiming victory. You and I might be appalled, but the people on the inside don't seem to be. That's a problem.

Remember, it was only recently that anyone (outside of radical rescuers) cared that dogs confiscated from raids were being destroyed. It was supposedly "for the best" that they were PTS, right? And dogs that don't really exist once the cops are done with them? .. Who cares but radical rescuers and outspoken voices like Ledy VanKavage, who first floated this out there on We should all just be happy that 500 were being spared (note sarcasm).

We have some work to do, and bringing this practice to the public forum is one step.

ES - For the record the HSUS not only avoided participating in fighting dogs in MO, they made sure that some of the investigation dogs had the opportunity to be spared. They restored my faith in human decency.

Unknown said...

While I (again) commend BadRap in their selfless efforts to provide compassionate care to these victims during the aftermath of the dog's sacrifice, personally, I am completely against this practice. Those dogs do not have a voice and are not getting any sort of compensation for their "work". I realize they are not humans but we're talking pits here, they might as well be for as sensitive, loving and loyal beings that they are. It's unimaginable that any person could sign up and willingly watch a helpless animal be tortured for any cause. How do the officers sleep at night? Please make it stop! The horror of it all is just too much to bear and that's being said without watching the video. What a nightmare for all the dogs involved.

Tim said...

Rinalia - The opportunity to help these dogs comes at the eleventh hour with no previous knowledge of a game plan. With the dogs' best interest in mind we have said yes in these cases, however legally, we cannot speak in public about the particulars of the individual dogs we have taken on. Be certain though that we have not remained silent outside of the public arena as it pertains to this "questionable" practice.

This self outing by the investigators has surely opened the doors for public discussion. I'm very pleased and not surprised to see such great interest in the topic. The overwhelming sentiment is obvious and we will be working on this topic more behind those once closed doors.

Your Correspondent, Sarah said...

This question of does the good of the many outweigh the good of the few has come up repeatedly on Star Trek. The captain has a choice to save everyone by sacrificing a few lives. But you know what? A smart captain figures out another option, another way to save everyone, without throwing anyone 'under the bus'.
When anyone, police or civilian, uses tactics that sacrifice others, to me, that shows a very serious failure to think creatively and collaboratively enough to find a better way. Let's try harder (and smarter), everyone!

Sarah Issersohn
human companion of Phoenix, BADRAP alum

Anonymous said...

No! Of course it isn't right, for all of the reasons mentioned by the various responses. I do not need to watch the video; I don't need those images taking hold in my mind.

As mentioned, the dogs do not get to choose to be involved in this activity - even if it is for the "greater good" of the many. It is our responsibility to protect them from harm, whether they are our personal dogs or not.

We can speak out, we can change laws, we can bring atrocities to the light of day....we are the instruments of change.

Do I have a nice solution to the problem? No, I wish I did. Change doesn't start when all of the answers are neatly in place. It starts when we speak out against what's wrong. Then we can take the steps necessary to create change.

No wonder you endure sleepless nights. Savings dogs, while knowing other dogs are being sacrificed in the process. That takes a lot of inner strength.


Melissa Groff said...

The end does not justify the means.....the dogs have no more say than a child that we are trying to protect. Put harsher penalties on the abusers and maybe just maybe people will start thinking that it isn't right. No animal or person deserves this. Stop letting abusers lie by saying they are sorry. They are saying it to get out of jail.

Anonymous said...

We need to take this outrage directly to Missouri Humane before this practice becomes customary!! Speaking amongst ourselves will not help stop this horrid abuse. Missouri Humane has a facebook page as well as contact info on their website. They received considerable hero status and financial backing all the time keeping this dirty secret away from the public. Lets hope that our collective comments reach them. I want my donation back!! Where was mention of the decoy dogs in the big reunion event?????Where was the mention of the sacrifices made????

To 7:18 am anonymous: I meant that the law enforcement inner being involved in this abuse- however, it is incumbent upon each law enforcement person to rise up and rebel against this abuse.

Lynn in N. Cal

Ukiah said...

As someone that is working with two of these dogs right now I have very mixed feelings. I look in their eyes and can't even imagine what they've been through. They are heroes. I don't think I can come from a place ever that can approve of this practice, but it's happening and it was successful by law enforcement standards so it will probably happen again. In talking with people and seeing some things that we are working through with these dogs what I would like to see happen if they are going to continue using these dogs is some sort of care in place to best insure that these dogs have a chance when their services are no longer needed. As Donna has mentioned a lot of these dogs were so damaged afterward that they had to be euthanized. The damage was not just dog aggression, it was fear peopel and the outside world. I do not believe that these investigators were busy 24/7 at a dog fight. They could have spent some of their off time working with these dogs and exposing them to other things and strange people and getting them prepared for a rescue situation after they are no longer needed. They owe them this at the very least. It is not hard to do and I believe that they had time to do it, but they didn't bother.

Pinky's Mom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dianne said...

PS It put a smile on my face to read this: For the record the HSUS not only avoided participating in fighting dogs in MO, they made sure that some of the investigation dogs had the opportunity to be spared. They restored my faith in human decency.

And just because it is morally reprehensible for law enforcement to fight dogs does not mean you, and HSUS, should decline to assist in these cases.

Malcolm's Dad said...

Hi Ukiah, many thanks for caring for two of the precious victims. I think we need to remember what it takes for these decoy dogs to fight. They themselves are hit, beat, abused themselves, neglected at best by the people assigned to protect them. Not ok and why would we even want these same people to care for them afterwards when they subjected the dogs to horrors unimaginable to begin with. None of us can afford to view this naively. And this information was posted as a boast to their perceived success which strongly suggests a warp in moral judgement. I don't believe that any aftercare "rights" the abuse to begin with.

Brent said...

One thing that I want to point out in this to a few of the folks who are comparing to the Vick case -- this one is a little different.

The Vick case involved essentially 4 people, and 50 dogs. This case involved hundreds of dogs and dozens of people. It seems unlikely that they could have uncovered so many people and places in even a fraction of the time they did without doing it the way they did it.

I still am not sure it makes it right as the whole thing just makes me just want to hug my dogs and hold on tight. I do think this is an awful situation all the way around -- and thanks Donna for providing a forum for discussion.

Donna said...

Brent - I tried on the 'necessary evil' perspective too when we first received the dogs, but did a quick U-turn when it became clear how physically and psychologically damaged they were. We've received dogs from dog fighters that were in better shape than these.

My attitude soured more when we recognized that the dogs were MO's hidden baggage that would not get a nod, much less a helping hand for their health problems, including heart worm so many were riddled with. They were rejected as dogs that were "unrelated" to the case, so didn't deserve to be recognized, honored or even remembered. They were the bastard red headed step children of the operation. No one wanted to acknowledge their existence or even celebrate their sacrifice for the "greater good" (as Ukiah is doing).

And finally, when the news article and video came out with what appears to be gloating, we about had it. There is no integrity here.

Catching the bad guys can't be the motive in these campaigns ... Preventing the suffering of the victims HAS to be the motive if we're ever going to be able to turn the tide for these dogs.

ukiah said...

Oh Goodness Malcolm's dad, I didn't mean to imply that they should have any involvement with the dog after the fact, absolutely not. I just think a minimum standard of care should be implemented (before and during) which would include socializing them with the outside world. For example, one of our dogs I took to McDonalds so we can sit outside and meet people. The American flag flapping in the wind had the poor boy pinned in terror to the sidewalk. If they could socialize these dogs to the outside world it is a hell of a lot easier to deal with the dog aggression part of things than to deal with fear issues. If law enforcement is going to use these dogs in such horrible ways then they need to do everything they possibly can to set them up for success afterwards. We owe them that much. I remember calling Donna a couple years ago about a dog I was on the fence on. I told her that I had a dog who was super squishy and loved people, we also had some calls from the community letting us know that this was a well known fighting dog in the area. I told her I wasn't sure if I should fight for this dog or not. She asked me if the dog's reaction to meeting another dog was fear based and it wasn't. I told her he looked like he enjoyed it. I remember her comment to me exactly, she said those are the best ones. As soon as he realized that behavior didn't please me he was putty in my hands. I fought for that dog, trained him and he went to a very well screened experienced home. I had no other issues to deal with and it made it so much easier.

Malcolm's Dad said...

Hi Ukiah,

Thanks for that clarification, but i will stand firm, that these dogs should not be used for this purpose to begin with. Complacency on our part and accepting their abuse is as dangerous. I understand the realities of fighting dogs,rehabbing them, etc. but to accept and allow man to put them in that position is wrong. Accepting any less is wrong in my opinion also.

Donna said...

Ukiah - I think what Malcolm's Dad is saying is that the goal that you want - a standard of quality care for investigation dogs that includes socializing the dog to the world - is going to be impossible to meet when the people who would be in charge of the humane care are the same ones abusing the dogs in the ring. It's a schizophrenic situation. Maybe one of the old time dog fighter could pull that off, but it's a new world now and dog fighting is no longer a so-called gentleman's sport.

It's likely that 'blending in' with the current dog fighting scene includes being as brutal as the other dog fighters. Although the video seems to try to make the point that the investigators draw the line at electrocution of the losers.

Collette said...

As upsetting as it is that the dogs were fought to make the bust, I'm not sure that there's any other way to infiltrate these fight rings and make charges stick. I speak from personal experience:

A couple of years ago, I received information that the friend of a scumbag neighbor was working for a big dogfighter. I spent almost 8 months schmoozing this lowlife, to no avail. Although she hinted at her 'employer's' occupation (he was also a major meth dealer) I could get no details of where she worked or the guy's name.

Finally, I started trailing her, to find out where she worked. This took about two weeks, since I couldn't risk her seeing me, and she rarely went straight to work.

I eventually trailed her to a particular street, where, with additional discreet surveliance and some inquiry, I figure out which house was her place of employment.

I notified Animal Control. They went over with the police. The guy disappeared out the back as soon as he saw them coming. The cops confiscated 14 dogs, including two breeding bitches and a puppy, and a bunch of fighting-type equipment.

Two months later, the dogfighter reappeared with his lawyer, and turned himself in. He was charged with 21 counts of various things, including animal cruelty and possession of dog-fighting paraphernalia, and released on bail.

A month later, the District Attorney dropped ALL charges. The reason: No one actually witnessed any of the dogs being fought. She told me that, if I could provide EYEwitness testimony, they would reinstate the charges. Or, if I could provide a time and place when a fight was scheduled to occur, she would reinstate the charges. Otherwise, no go.

The sonabitch never spent even a day in jail to pay for his crimes. All the dogs, with the sole exception of the puppy, were destroyed.

Dogfighting is a highly secretive world. It is almost impossible to get ANY information unless you 'become' part of that world. And that means looking like them, talking like them, and acting like them. Because otherwise, you will never have access to that world.

Worse, you can't be 'part-time' undercover. These are not Eagle Scouts you're dealing with. They are murderous, viscous thugs who wouldn't hesitate to kill you with the same dispassionate violence they apply to their losing dogs. Be discovered, and you're as good as dead.

And without that kind of 'insider' access, and 'insider' eyewitness testimony - the chances of getting the DA's office to press charges are slim and none.

So, yes, it's a terrible, sickening price that the dogs had to pay. In my case, I knew that, if I pretended that I wanted to fight my pit bull, I could have gained entry to the fight ring. I didn't have either the stomach or the courage to do that.

So frankly, I don't know what the answer is. I don't know that there is an alternative to going fully undercover in the way these officers did.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go get me some bully lovin...

Collette said...

As upsetting as it is that the dogs were fought to make the bust, I'm not sure that there's any other way to infiltrate these fight rings and make charges stick. I speak from personal experience:

A couple of years ago, I received information that the friend of a scumbag neighbor was working for a big dogfighter. I spent almost 8 months schmoozing this lowlife, to no avail. Although she hinted at her 'employer's' occupation (he was also a major meth dealer) I could get no details of where she worked or the guy's name.

Finally, I started trailing her, to find out where she worked. This took about two weeks, since I couldn't risk her seeing me, and she rarely went straight to work.

I eventually trailed her to a particular street, where, with additional discreet surveliance and some inquiry, I figure out which house was her place of employment.

I notified Animal Control. They went over with the police. The guy disappeared out the back as soon as he saw them coming. The cops confiscated 14 dogs, including two breeding bitches and a puppy, and a bunch of fighting-type equipment.

Two months later, the dogfighter reappeared with his lawyer, and turned himself in. He was charged with 21 counts of various things, including animal cruelty and possession of dog-fighting paraphernalia, and released on bail.

A month later, the District Attorney dropped ALL charges. The reason: No one actually witnessed any of the dogs being fought. She told me that, if I could provide EYEwitness testimony, they would reinstate the charges. Or, if I could provide a time and place when a fight was scheduled to occur, she would reinstate the charges. Otherwise, no go.

The sonabitch never spent even a day in jail to pay for his crimes. All the dogs, with the sole exception of the puppy, were destroyed.

Dogfighting is a highly secretive world. It is almost impossible to get ANY information unless you 'become' part of that world. And that means looking like them, talking like them, and acting like them. Because otherwise, you will never have access to that world.

Worse, you can't be 'part-time' undercover. These are not Eagle Scouts you're dealing with. They are murderous, viscous thugs who wouldn't hesitate to kill you with the same dispassionate violence they apply to their losing dogs. Be discovered, and you're as good as dead.

And without that kind of 'insider' access, and 'insider' eyewitness testimony - the chances of getting the DA's office to press charges are slim and none.

So, yes, it's a terrible, sickening price that the dogs had to pay. In my case, I knew that, if I pretended that I wanted to fight my pit bull, I could have gained entry to the fight ring. I didn't have either the stomach or the courage to do that.

So frankly, I don't know what the answer is. I don't know that there is an alternative to going fully undercover in the way these officers did.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go get me some bully lovin...

Anonymous said...

I have a question that is somewhat related. Why is You Tube showing videos of clearly illegal activities? This is not a freedom of speech issue, this is clearly criminal activity...why is it on the web?

Donna said...

Thx Collette

.. and don't forget, even with full-on video evidence - which helped nail most of the worst offenders in the MO case - many of the dog fighters got off with very light sentences including probation. Probation!

I love Sarah Issersohn's Star Trek-inspired comment that "A smart captain figures out another option, another way to save everyone, without throwing anyone 'under the bus'."

It seems we need a more creative solution to busting as well as convicting. And that only happens when a larger movement cares enough about the victims to "make it so." (to use another Star Trek phrase)

ES said...

you know it's almost MORE shocking to hear that these poor victims weren't even accorded the minimal care of getting heartworm preventative as that they were fought. We're supposed to admire the lawmen for NOT electrocuting the dogs because it threatened their undercover status? OOOOOO big men! What excuse do they have for not throwing the dogs a Heartguard once/month.? And that's probably the least of the rotten care they got. Did the Vick dogs have heartworm?

you know what Collette: dogfighters are NOT criminal masterminds and promoting them as such only hypes their image and makes them more appealing to some types (ooooo they're scarier than meth dealers!.. um no, they're the same scum). They're just racketeers like any other. They have to be caught using the same legal/law enforcement tools as any other criminal, properly applied (and yes, they do have the same rights as any other citizen to be assumed innocent until proven guilty.. let's not forget what happened to the Boudreaux's). In the anecdote you relate, there was no proof of dogfighting. You provide no evidence of dogfighting. As too often happens even now, the dogs of people accused of dogfighting are the ones who are victims.

thank you Ukiah for sharing your experience

Donna said...

ES - None of the 47 Vick dogs had heartworm.

Unknown said...

This is such a crock of sh*t... sacrificing a dogs well-being and capabilities to save other dogs, isn't this why everyone is angry already? Because these are INNOCENT dogs being trained to fight to save other dogs that have also been forced into figthing by their owners... so we are basically fighting fire with fire, this will go up in flames! Here's a freakin thought, instead of training a dog to fight to catch the dog catchers, why doesn't the police force train their officers to pay the f*ck attention to tips, noise, & maybe also look into furthering restrictions on adoptive laws for pitbull owners. Or instead of putting those helpless already trained to fight pits to sleep, why not use their misfortune to our advantage, and use that dog as an investigative helper rather then terrorize yet another helpless animals...
How bout let's not fight this stupid destructive culture with an even more beyond stupid and destructive idea.... way to go...

Anonymous said...

We cannot become monsters in order to defeat monsters.

Collette said...

Es - Undercover officers in difficult-to-infiltrate crimes frequently participate in illegal activities to keep their cover. It's no different infiltrating drug rings or human trafficking rings. In fact, in one case, some of the drugs an undercover officer sold as part of the sting operation showed up in a local high school. So, yes, this operation used the same legal/law enforcemnt tools used to catch any other criminal.

If you have a proven, successful way to infiltrate a highly secretive criminal group WITHOUT going undercover, I'm sure law enforcement would love to hear it. If you have a way to send these guys to prison with a substantial sentence, please, share it.

Until then, this is a Hobson's choice for us: We're dammed if we do, and dammed if we don't.

Furthermore, I resent your implication that I am, in any way, glorifying dogfighters. You make a mistake when you dismiss these criminals lightly. Far from 'promoting' them or 'hyping' 'their image as such', I'm simply calling a spade a spade.

The people who run these dogfighting rings are NOT like 'any other'. They are sociopathic scum. And please do not slam the officers. You have not walked in their shoes. Undercover officers working these stings are literally risking their lives every day. Save your scorn for those who deserve it - the sadistic, sociopathic criminals.

As for my 'anecdote': This is no 'anecdote'. This happened. And the evidence was there. There was a pit. There was a treadmill. There was dog blood at the scene. There were several bags of wood shavings. There were scars on several of the dogs. The dogs were secured outside by short, thick, iron chains. In short - according to the ACO who was there at the bust - there was plenty of 'evidence' that this location was involved in dogfighting.

There was also a highly-paid and very competent defense lawyer involved. And that's why the bastard walked. That, and a DA that didn't want to be bothered.

Seems to me that, for dogs being abused and tortured by dogfighters, not receiving HeartGuard is the least of their problems.

And before you suggest that I support the idea of fighting dogs to bust dogfighters - I don't. It sickens me to think of ANY dog being fought. I just know that there is another side to this, and another whole set of choices that had to be made. It is not a simple black/white decision. There is a lot of gray here.

Beausoxfan said...

Christie Keith is exactly right with her comparison. It is akin to bringing your own child (if you a cop) to a pedophile's house and letting the child be molested, just so you can arrest the pedophile. Where do you draw the line? Comparisons were also made to WWI and WWII, ultimately, those combatants had a choice whether or not to fight. I was sick to my stomach and cried watching this video, and now I am furious at not only the dog fighters, but the dog fighting police and the piece of dirt who films this and finds it entertaining. It makes me wish there was a hell, so they could burn in it.

Collette said...

@ andie - You're partly right. But even when the police pay atention, the DAs don't follow through. Donna pointed out hat several of the MO criminals got of with probation. In a recent Florida case, 3 caught-in-the-act dogfighters were allowed to plead down to misdemeanor animal cruelty, and released with only probation. Not even a day in jail.

When the courts begin taking dogfighting seriously, we'll begin making headway.

Donna said...

Collette - the lack of hw prevention tell me that the cops didn't expect the dogs to live beyond the investigation. They just didn't see past tomorrow. Why bother with protecting something that's expendable? We can assume that Vick wanted to protect his investments for the long term in case any of the dogs turned out to be worth their salt in the pit.

Connie, Orlando said...

Would they use their young daughter, and prostitute her, to catch a pedophile or bring down an organized group of pedophiles? I think not. It's about consent and these dogs (as well as children) cannot give informed consent. WRONG - WRONG - WRONG!

Malcolm's Dad said...

Collette, although I respect your insight and profession, I do not support your assertion that there is alot of gray here. Abuse, torture, neglect are abuse, torture and neglect - no gray. Abuse, torture and neglect should not be an acceptable approach to any situation. So, bottom line also, even though 40 decoy dogs were sacrificed, many of the MO dogfighters got off with probation and short sentences.

Malcolm's Dad said...

And no headway is made for the American Pit Bull Terrier and other bull dogs if we tolerate that for which we fight against for any purpose. What a strong message sent by law enforcement in this situation - that the pit bull decoy dogs were expendable - but of course, they are only pit bulls. How much more can these dogs be minimized?

Anonymous said...

I can understand bringing your dog along and acting like a dog fighter right up until you put your dog in ring and let it go. We see this all the time in bribery busts, where the cops rush in from the next room when the payola envelope is offered. Why couldn't cops do the same thing here?

In many states it's illegal to attend a dog fight. So, at a signal from the undercover officer, cops throw a net over the entire thing and arrest anyone with a dog and anyone watching. They could even arrest the "officer" and "seize" his dog to preserve his cover.

There has to be some other way to fight dog fighting besides engaging in dog fighting.

Therese (cause the sign in is just not working for me today)

Jenny said...

I'm not being cynical, but the unfortunate central issue here remains the reality that, legally speaking, in every jurisdiction that I'm aware of, dogs are considered property rather than victims or sentient beings. This is still true in spite of all of the great work that's recently been done by BadRap and others.

As long as that's the case I imagine that dogfighting investigations will continue to use dogs in these kinds of cases, and will continue to distinguish this morally reprehensible practice from other lines that are drawn in undercover work (like using kids to bust porn producers, etc). They will because they can, and the law doesn't require them to see any feasible alternative.

This is yet another in a long list of reasons to reexamine that central tenet of animal law in this country.

Anonymous said...

Good points Therese, I wonder how the decoy dogs have been treated in preparation of these fights also if the dogs were neglected and even hit to get them fight-ready. There is something wrong with the whole picture. What about a petition to end this practice before others jump on the band wagon. As Donna mentions, there needs to be a bigger movement to change this and maybe we're that movement!

lynn in N. Cal

Anonymous said...

What really baffles me is where does the Humane Society of Missouri stand on these practices? I just went to their web site and their mission statement reads "Our Mission Since 1870, the Humane Society of Missouri has been dedicated to second chances. We provide a safe and caring haven to all animals in need - large and small - that have been abused, neglected or abandoned." How do they reconcile their mission statement with using decoy dogs?? Has the HSMO defrauded their mission statement and their supporters? Where is the safe and caring haven for the poor decoy dogs? Each of the decoy dogs needs to be accounted for - where are they, what shape are they in and HOW did they get prepared for these fights. What allows the to act beyond their mission statement as provided to the IRS? I think we are all due answers. Every non-profit is governed by bylaws and mission statements - where is their adherance and where is their accountability?

Robin said...

NO, it is NOT ethical or humane. It is a shortcut and if I were Queen of the World I'd tell then they have to find another way. I say go and work harder at it instead of using the dogs and throwing them away.

Anonymous said...

Cannot see how the ends justifies the means. Unacceptable.

K9Trainer said...

No, this is absolutely wrong and should not happen again.

And to ukiah - I'm not sticking up for police, but you say they should have "bothered" to spend time with these dogs. I think the fact that they DIDN'T is a good thing. Could you spend time bonding with an animal and then throw it in a dog fighting ring? The fact that these police officers couldn't do that means that they knew damn well what they were doing was going over to the dark side, and they weren't happy about it.

Also it kills me that all the people posting on this are the first ones to scream "all pit bulls aren't bad, they just have a bad rep" and then crucify all police officers everywhere for the actions of very few. Hypocrites, everyone who does that. Go think some more.

jess said...

"Very little of the great cruelty shown by men can really be attributed to cruel instinct. Most of it comes from thoughtlessness or inherited habit. The roots of cruelty, therefore, are not so much strong as widespread. But the time must come when inhumanity protected by custom and thoughtlessness will succumb before humanity championed by thought. Let us work that this time may come." ~Albert Schweitzer

sounds good to me. how do we change this insane practice? What can we do as a humane community to say we won't stand for this? We can't relieve suffering for some, while inflicting it on others at the same time.

We are thoughtful human beings that have the ability to choose between cruelty and exploitation or intelligent and effective compassionate actions.

one more quote: "Do the right thing." Spike Lee

and that video? uh...the dudes need to be fired asap.

ingrid said...

I do not agree at all. Not at all.

Why? Because what is the end result? Are we ridding our world of these "villains" or just fining them a bit and letting them start all over again after a few months (maybe) behind bars.

There's no sense in engaging in this type of behavior or undercover activity while the other side of the law isn't prepared to actually do something with the findings.

Even so- i would never send my dog, or any dog- into such a life. This is old school primitive & weak thinking that should be reprimanded. It's 2010 - our government, and our police force should and can find a better way.

Collette said...

@malcolms dad: I didn't say what my profession is, so I'm not sure what assumption you're making. And, BTW, what I do has absolutely nothing to do with law enforcement or the legal system. Frankly, I don't have a very high opinion of most cops, or the system in general.

That said, I think it's very easy to take the moral high ground when you're not the one who has to make the choice.

And it's easy to excoriate and revile with a broad and reductive brush when it supports our personal agenda.

BSL is a perfect example of this kind of blinkered thinking.

So we'll have to agree to disagree about the gray. Because I don't think this decision was made lightly, and nothing in what I've read leads me to believe that the officers derived any pleasure in participating in these activities, or in subjecting their dogs to these situations.

Was the decision repugnant? Absolutely.

Could I have done what these officers did? Absolutely, unequivocally, not.

Yet, as a society, we split hairs on ethical dilemmas like this all the time.

When a sniper takes out an enemy soldier to save the lives of an entire platoon, does that morally justify taking another person's life?

When the passengers on Flight 93 fought back against the 9/11 hijackers, they knew their actions would kill everyone on board. Yet they still did it, because they knew their few deaths would save the lives of many. (And, I suspect, human nature being what it is, not everyone on that flight thought that was a good idea.)

Is it ever OK for a police officer to sell drugs that could kill someone, in order to save hundreds of children?

Some of the search and rescue dogs came back from Ground Zero with PTSD and health issues caused by the toxic dust. Should we never use search and rescue dogs again in disasters? Some of the bomb-squad dogs in Iraq and Afghanistan are also coming home with PTSD. Some bomb-squad dogs have died in the line of duty. Yet these dogs have saved many, many lives by doing what they do.

If you were asked to do something that would endanger an unwitting stranger and potentially cause them injury, harm, or even death - yet that very action would, with certainty, save thousands, what decision would you make?

So... is it EVER all right for one to be sacrificed so that many may live? Is it EVER OK to ask an animal to do dangerous work in order to save lives?

The estimated weight of a life is a personal thing. It is an intensely personal calculation.

If we are honest with ourselves - and 99.99% of us have never been forced to make such life or death choices - who among us can truly say what we would do?

So instead of knee-jerk outrage, we should direct our energy to where it could do some lasting good.

Contact your congress, senate, and local government officials and lobby them to increase the penalties for dogfighting and animal abuse. Lobby your local police and law enforcement organizations to vigorously investigate and prosecute these crimes. Focus on getting prosecutors to apply the stiffest possible charges to dogfighters, with no plea bargaining and no possibility of parole. Petition judges to deliver the stiffest possible penalties to these cases.

This sting operation used what they thought were the best tactics available to them to destroy evil. If you disagree, fine.

But simply saying, "There had to be a better way." is not good enough.

To ensure that dogs are not fought to catch dog fighters, we need to help law enforcement and the legal system come up with better solutions. Give them better tools, and we will have better results.

Because, right now... if you're trying to stop dogfighting and punish dogfighters... you're using a feather to stop a bulldozer.

Anonymous said...

This makes me makes my blood pressure rise and me almost have a panic attack reading this and then seeing the completely sick is this?! There are better ways....why did they have to go all the way to fight the dogs? WAsn't watching their fights and them get ready for fights enough evidence??? Why train and do 40? I just don't get its out that cops did that so now more and more and more fighters will be on the down low about and it will probably be harder to find them....hearing those dogs and seeing that made me completely sick.
I think the cops are removed from the situation and are not at all emotional about it. Its just a job to them.....but a life of a dog, an animal. No cause is too great. They can find another way.

Diane said...

I didn't need to watch the video to know my answer (but I did) ... NO. This is completely unethical. I don't care how many dogs are saved, how many dog fighters go to jail, or for how long. The end can never justify this means.

I don't understand how anyone who cares about animals could engage in this. Seems to me the investigators view the dogs as things, objects, disposable weapons for use in bringing down the enemy. How else could they do it? And how different are they from the dog fighters in their relationship to the animals? Not very.

Collette said...

Here’s the thing: If you don’t like the way someone else is ‘solving’ a problem – and dog fighting IS a problem – then come up with a better solution.

The way the laws are set up means that only an avalanche of irrefutable evidence brings these cases to court. And, even when they are, offenders receive ridiculously light sentences, if any at all.

So, if you want to ensure that dogs are never again fought to bust dog fighters then take your outrage and do something meaningful with it.

Make it so that fighting dogs is not just a crime – it isn’t worth the dogfighters time. Make the risk greater than the reward.

The long-term solution is education. The short-term solution is to send a powerful message to dog fighters: “We WILL find you. We WILL prosecute you. We WILL send you to prison for a very, very long time.”

Like the Chinese proverb says:

“Man who says a thing cannot be done, should not interrupt man doing it.”

Donna said...

Collette, It's not up to the public to find a better way to collect evidence. It's up to the animal welfare community and humane investigators to hear this criticism and commit to creating different strategies. You can bet that Law Man A has not been talking to Law Man B three states over about how he's been able to successfully build solid cases without harming dogs. Why should he? No one's been watching (and yes, they're still 'only' expendable pit bulls in many jurisdictions.)

Public sentiment is essential to signaling when agencies have crossed a line that society is not willing (or, no longer willing) to cross. Readers don't have to adjust their morals to match the stated "realities" of law enforcement, but they do have a responsibility to demand more humane practices when they see an injustice.

That's not being knee jerk, that's being a good human being.

Anonymous said...

*sigh*....Unethical, horrific, yes...The fact that a video was shot and uploaded to utube is disgusting.
Aside from the dogs,,,,,what is really heartbreaking is the fact that these dog fighters really don't get any just punishment. THAT has got to change, or in the long run (or the short run)all is in vain.

Collette said...

Donna, I agree with much of what you say, but here's where we differ significantly:

I am not, for one moment, suggesting that ANYONE should 'match their morals' to an unjust reality. Far from it.

However, I do not see how pretending that such realities do not exist, in any way gets us nearer to a lasting and effective solution to a problem.

Waiting for 'the system' to do the right thing, simply because it's the right thing to do, rarely results in swift or significant change.

If we, who care about this issue, want to see change, then we, as a community, need to make our voices heard. And, by 'heard' I mean in the halls where change is made.

All too often, people judge the efforts of others without offering any alternatives. I believe it IS our public responsibility to effect the change we want. I believe it IS our public responsibility - when faced with injustice - to find another way.

Right now, the reality is that dog fighting is not taken seriously enough by our courts.

I believe that, if that reality makes us uncomfortable and angry, we don't - and we shouldn't - adjust our morals to match the reality.

Instead, I believe WE - not "they" - need to do what is necessary to change the current reality to a more moral and just reality.

Anonymous said...

Where did these dogs come from, surely they weren't volunteers. Were they pets unsuspecting people had turned in? Were they dogs that had trusted people to protect them at one point? Were they strays and it was assumed they had been unwanted anyway so it didn't matter? Don't they deserve some type of memorial or recognition if they are still alive. Who would have been the one to make the final decision on this, shouldn't he come forward to take responsibility?

Pet Lover said...

Instead of Dogs, we should put the people who conduct these kind of events, They should understand the pain and difficulties of fighting with one Another.

Rescued Pittie Family said...

I work for Child Protective Services for the State of TN and this would be like me turning over my child to a known child rapist and allow my child to be abused so that I could catch him.
No way in hell.
There has got to be other ways to address this problem.
I would be willing to break some civil rights - like those regarding privacy - if that is what it took.
And if they can enter their dog to fight why do they have to go all the way with it?
Why couldn't they forfeit and pull their dog out?
And how in the world do they watch that?
Oh my God I would just die. I couldn't do it. Just couldn't do it.

Donna said...

Collette, if you dig back a bit on our blog to posts in the summer of 2007, you'll see the same kind outrage, just directed at a different travesty.

Readers were rightfully shocked when they learned that pit bull victims of cruelty were being systematically destroyed post-seizure by "the good guys," and that shock lead to the push for landmark changes in agency policy, as you know. Before the outrage, investigators adamantly defended the practice of destroying confiscated dogs, but they've since changed their perspective and are some of our strongest allies in saving the dogs now.

I'm confident that the same outrage we're seeing here is the start of similar discussions and changes in how dogs are used by investigators.

Elizabeth Kennedy said...

What's being discussed in many of these posts is what's "OK for a police officer" to do, as against what's legal. We have morals and we have policy.
Police action, though influenced by public morality, is pretty clear-cut: uphold the law and protect the law-abiding citizenry. Committing the crime to bust the crime is counterintuitive, no matter how passionately one argues the case. I talked with an 11-year-old about this recently and he also suggested what makes this all the more clear is that the pit bulls in these instances have not willingly committed to this cause. The parallel between exploiting children to bust child pornography rings is likely refuted with, "Well they're just dogs." And that's exactly the problem with this misguided approach. Dogs can't be fought as throwaways to end dog fighting.
Likewise, if a narcotics officer ingests cocaine on a bust to bring the case in, she's compromising herself. It's her choice to step outside the law in the interest of what she feels is a greater good. She'll have to answer to her captain should her methods be called into question. She'll have to deal with the consequences of her illegal, immoral participation in the criminal activity. The dogs sign no such moral contract.
I'd be interested to learn just how much access to fight rings has changed since Vick. It is still a spectator sport, is it not? I'd imagine people are still welcomed as bystanders.

Anonymous said...

Well put Elizabeth!

Collette said...

Hi Donna, Re: "...that shock lead to the push for landmark changes in agency policy,..."

That's exactly my point, too. Let's take this energy and use it to create the same kinds of lasting changes.

Because pit bulls, as we all know, were once routinely villified by the media and the general public. Back then, most people weren't even interested in the facts about pitties. Since the very, very public outrage following Vick, there have been obvious and lasting changes at the public and private level.

To me, events like this (revealing that the officers engaged in fights, or when the appalling details about Vick were made public) are a painful blessing.

On the one hand, the knowledge is deeply disturbing and deeply painful. On the other hand, the same knowledge opens dialogue and creates opportunities to present positive information and create lasting change.

For example, before Vick, many potential dog adopters wouldn't even have considered a pit bull or even a pit mix. Today, that's changed. And I know - from talking to some of those owners - that the catalyst for their change of heart was the Vick case and its aftermath. Their eyes AND their hearts were opened.

I didn't watch the video. I won't ever watch that video. I don't need to. But I know this...

Every dog that has suffered and died at the hands of a dogfighter is a warrior and a hero. Because of their sacrifice, thousands can be saved.

Aimee Chagnon said...

It's so hard to believe, with all the tools and technology available to law enforcement officials, that an approach so brutal and barbaric is condoned under the erroneous reasoning that "the ends justify the means." The punishment does not fit the crime, which makes these dogs' suffering and involuntary sacrifice that much worse. Surely there has to be another way to get these busts.

Collette said...

@ Elizabeth- Re: dog fights/spectators:

It depends. If it's a pro ring, with major money involved, then no, casual spectators are NOT welcome. You only get knowledge and entree if you have a dog you're fighting.

If it's 'streetfighting', then entry is much looser. These are 'pick-up' fights, often arranged on the spur of the moment, and conducted in an open lot or someone's backyard. The fights rarely take place in the same place twice, and by the time AC or police hear about them, they're over and everybody is gone.

Streetfights are different from the pros. Pros spend months conditioning the dogs and will travel across states to big fights. They may only fight their top dogs a few times a year, but the money is big. The pro fight rings are highly secretive and difficult to break in to.

And, because of the money involved, you're dealing with some pretty ruthless people. There are no 'spectators' at pro fights. Guns, drugs, enforcers, and big money. But no 'spectators'. You're either active in the ring, or you're not present.

Streetfights, on the other hand are usually 'house' dogs owned by drug dealers, gang members, two-bit thugs, and habitual petty criminals. Winnings are much smaller - usually a few hundred bucks. It's much easier to be a spectator, even if you don't own a dog. However, busting a streetfight doesn't give much bang for the buck. Cops will bag a dozen gangbangers, AC will confiscate a dozen dogs, the spectators will get a slap on the wrist for being there, and the gangbangers will get a fine, three months and probation, if that.

The ultimate answer to streetfighting is education, at the public (legislative) and private (citizen) levels.

The ultimate answer to pro fighting is to throw the fu*#ers behind bars for a very, very long time.

One voice counts said...

No re justifying torture of forty. Yes, there is and must be another way. Just as there was and is another way to test harmful chemicals on laboratory animals. Does anyone have the stories on these forty dogs? If so where are those stories? Damn sure were they able to speak -- were someone like Jim Gorant to give them voice -- the answer would be loud and powerful. No.

Anonymous said...

It's a horrible means to the end, yes. But it has to be done. It's not just about saving 500 dogs, it's about saving many thousands of dogs, and preventing this underground culture from continuing, preventing kids from joining because they think it's cool. To help save a breed from bans, and other breeds from the same fate if bans continue.

But how about changing how they do it? There's many high animal aggression APBTs, who are just about out of the range of many people's ability to handle, and would otherwise be put down, remember, this is a breed that was bred to think scuffling was fun, like many terriers do, just because many today want no part and are ruined by it, doesn't mean there aren't some who would be the type who do want to go show the other dog who's boss. Pull from those, search them out, pick ones that don't have any distinctive markings. And when they've done their job, give them a life of peace.

Maybe then we can end this.

Although, I'm half tempted to say a harder to work idea would be to infiltrate and turn dog fighting into weight pulling competitions....if they bet on those, would we care so long as the dogs are taken care of? They can still have their stupid status, and for it to be effective, they'd have to take care of their dogs. x.x

Donna said...

anon 4:34,

If I understand you correctly, you are proposing that investigators hand select dogs that more likely to cause great harm to the other dogs during fights?

Would it bother you that this would cause even more injury to the other dogs - doubling the amount of suffering that would come out of the fights?

Annie's Mom said...

The ends never justify the means - especially when the ones who have to suffer through the means don't have the ability to consent or not. The fact of the matter is, you never know what the ends will be. Will they find enough evidence? Will the case be thrown out in court? Will there be a plea agreement? Will all the dogs be put down? There is no way to answer those questions in advance. Therefore, sacrificing innocent dogs in the name of an unknowable (and, in my opinion, in the name of any) cause, is horribly inhumane. I think it's even worse, actually, because they know what they are doing is immoral and inhumane. I don't really know how they sleep at night.

Millie - Ft Myers, Fl said... a retired federal investigator, I can tell you the invesigators who do this heinous act are taking the "easy" route. Stiffer penalties for the crime, bigger rewards for information = more people willing to snitch once caught themselves,or to turn in their associates who may be fighting. Better undercover, and detective work can accomplish the same result. This is simply inexcusable and must be STOPPED. Since when did joining the criminal element and participating in a crime become a way of catching criminals and would this be accepted in other criminal activity..NO!!!

Donna said...

Thank you for commenting Millie. We really do need the perspective of law enforcement on this topic to help sort out the thinking.

Connie, Orlando said...

Donna, Tim & others: did you hear the story on NPR today about DNA database for pit bulls? They interviewed someone from ASPCA & Best Friends: 2 different points of view on the topic. They referenced the Missouri bust. Just wondering where you stood on this issue.

Anonymous said...

This is SO WRONG!!

Are they going to say it's ok to murder someone to catch a killer?

Now I want to save the pitties from the bad guys AND the good guys!!!

Donna said...

@ Connie. We aren't feeling the DNA love. We've been in discussion with the aspca and others and trying to learn the ins and outs, and will comment once we feel we have something of value to add. Right now? ... Skepticism and concern.

J.M. said...

Speaking of DNA are you referring to the CODIS Database?
If so have you seen this statement by VGL?

"VGL does not support breed-specific legislation. This database contains no breed-specific information and cannot be used for that purpose. It is established solely for prosecuting criminal dog fighting cases, and only law enforcement professionals engaged in investigating dog fighting casework can contribute samples."

Donna said...

That's the one, J.M.

It's great that CODIS is opposed to BSL and trying to make this an "all breed" data base, but the fact is, the only breed that's being studied for links to known fighting dogs is the same breed that's under siege all over this country.
More will be coming out on this (concerns over mis-use of blood samples, that is), so keep watching - and thank you for watching btw!

Pam said...

There's no excuse for ever using your own beloved dog to further a cause. It makes me sick...the ultimate betrayal.

goingnowhereslowly said...

First we need to make sure that dogfighting is seen as a real crime, for which people should do real time. I completely agree with the commenters who say that no dog should be tortured to give someone a slap on the wrist. A huge amount of progress has been made on this in the last few years, but more is necessary.

This easy part of the question aside, it still seems to me that you don’t need to use dogs to infiltrate dogfighting. Given the links between dogfighting and the drug trade, and the incredible resources and judicial might behind enforcing drug laws, a lot of progress can be made by using drug informants to also inform on dogfighting. There may be a cultural reluctance in law enforcement to spend bargaining chips with informants on “just dogs,” but dogfighting, like the drug trade, has its own penumbra of associated criminal behavior and its own constituency (us) for stopping it. And what if the authorities let it be known that they have a keen interest in identifying fight pits? At the very least, the owners of such property could be subjected to some pretty tough questioning, and a thorough examination of the adequacy of their tax filings. RICO is also our friend here.

As Millie commented, “law enforcement” officers who are fighting dogs are taking the easy way out. Good, old-fashioned police work, backed up by the courts and the public, can get us a long way.

Anonymous said...

Very disturbring and as much as I hate dogfighters, I don't think it is right to use dogs to infiltrate the rings. There's gotta be a better way. I do think there needs to be tougher penalties for dogfighting and better rewards for those who might be inclined to tip off the police. I'm upset with Missouri Humane as I donated to them when they were taking in the dogs from a fighting bust but no more after learning about this. There has to be another way to get the dogfighters than to participate in this horrible activity.

Anonymous said...

If you must do this, and I must say i'm torn about it... but if you MUST do this... then why not use the dogs already in the shelter that are considered unadoptable that already have the aggression issues instead of training new puppies that could otherwise live out normal happy lives. It does not make sense to condem more of these animals then what is necessary. There are hundreds of investigational dogs confenscated from fighting rings that are put down because they are unfit to be rehabilitated, why not let a veteran dogs have the chance to make a change for their own breed by paying it forward?

Nancy Langston said...

No, it's not ok, under any ethical framework that believes dogs are individuals with intrinsic value. In any ethical system, one individual can only be sacrificed to save others if that individual chooses to sacrifice him or herself. You can't kill 20 children to save 100 children. You can't turn 20 children into slaves to save 100 children from slavery. Utilitarian tradeoffs are not ethically viable for individuals with intrinsic value--unless those individuals make that choice for themselves.

If you believe dogs are mere objects, then sure, it's fine to destroy some to save many. But if we believed that, then why would anyone object to fighting dogs?

Anonymous said...

I would agree with all you guys. Dog fighting is wrong.
I am 12 and a victem of a dog attack but know that it wasnt the dogs fault but the person who kept hitting the dog making it mad and them attaking me. So to all you stupid people out there who think that dogs are ust animals think again because by making these acts you are proving that you are no better than what you think of these poor animals are society values no more that toys.

Matt said...

I just want to point out that the investigators did not upload that video.

John Bacon was one of the dog fighters. The video was evidence used against him in court. As a result, he was entitled to a copy. Bacon then gave the copy to the reporter who broke this story. The reporter then uploaded it.

Whatever else the investigators did, they didn't upload that video.

Mrs.Moos said...

OMG OMG what kind of a world do I live in? How can this be allowed? How does law enforcement justify this?Is this not equal to infiltrating a gang and killing someone as an initiation to bust the rest of the gang? What kind of a world do we live in? OMG
(MrsMoos btw)