- 1. Breaking News: ASPCA Assists in Largest Dog Fighting Raid in U.S. History
- 2. ASPCA Helps Launch Baltimore Anti-Cruelty Task Force
- 3. ASPCA Happy Tails: Undercover Snuggler
1. Breaking News: ASPCA Assists in Largest Dog Fighting Raid in U.S. History
On Wednesday, July 8, the ASPCA assisted federal and state agencies in what is believed to be the largest crackdown on dog fighting in U.S. history. The operation spans eight states so farMissouri, Illinois, Iowa, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Nebraska and Mississippi. Arrests have been made in all eight states.
Nearly 400 dogs, some of whom are pregnant, were safely transported to a secure facility under the direction of the Humane Society of Missouri’s (HSMO) Animal Cruelty Task Force, where they will be cared for until final disposition is determined by the U.S. District Court. Dog fighting is banned throughout the United States and is a felony in all 50 states. If convicted on animal fighting charges, those arrested each face up to five years in prison.
At the request of HSMO, the ASPCA is lending the services of its special forensics cruelty investigation team, including disaster animal rescuers, field service investigators and Dr. Melinda Merck, the nation’s premier forensic veterinarian. More than a dozen responders from the ASPCA’s Disaster Response team are in the field, along with the ASPCA’s Mobile Animal Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) Unit, a critical tool in the collection and processing of evidence at crime scenes. The CSI unit is outfitted with medical equipment tailored specifically for animal patients.
“The ASPCA’s Mobile Animal CSI Unit is an important component in the effort against animal cruelty,” says Laura Maloney, Senior Vice President of Anti-Cruelty Initiatives for the ASPCA. “This technology allows the ASPCA to strengthen cases against animal abusers and seek justice for their victims.”
The ASPCAalong with the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of the Inspector General, the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service and the U.S. Attorneyis providing support and veterinary care for the rescued animals, and will eventually assist in behavior evaluations of the dogs. Stay tuned to ASPCA.org for more details on this developing story.
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2. ASPCA Helps Launch Baltimore Anti-Cruelty Task Force
In late May, a two-year-old Pit Bull named Phoenix was doused with gasoline and set on fire in the streets of Southwest Baltimore, MD. Although the flames were extinguished by a heroic police officer, the dog suffered burns to 98 percent of her body and eventually had to be euthanized. (Two 17-year-old brothers have since been arrested and charged with the crime.)
The incident received extensive news coverage in Maryland, including a letter to the editorpublished in the Baltimore Sun from ASPCA Anti-Cruelty Group Senior Vice President, Laura Maloney. Amidst public demands for justice, Governor Martin O'Malley requested that the state attorney general review Maryland’s animal cruelty laws to determine if they are strong enough to both deter and adequately penalize such horrific abuses.
Baltimore’s proactive response to Phoenix’s tragic death hasn’t ended thereout of this appalling act of animal cruelty, something positive has been born. On July 8, Mayor Sheila Dixon held a press conference to announce the formation of the Anti-Animal Abuse Task Force, a committee that includes among its 14 members Dr. Randall Lockwood, ASPCA Senior Vice President of Anti-Cruelty Initiatives & Training. “The ASPCA was horrified to learn of what happened to Phoenix,” says Dr. Lockwood. “We have long recognized the dangerous potential for animal cruelty to lead to more serious crimes and look forward to working with the City of Baltimore to help put a stop to these violent injustices against animals.”
The Task Force will submit a report to the mayor on ways to prevent and prosecute animal abuse, including dog fighting, in the City of Baltimore. The group convenes next week to begin forming its recommendations regarding issues such as:
ways to stop animal abuse in the City of Baltimore
legislation that will protect animals and prosecute abusers
training/techniques for law enforcement on the humane handling of animal cruelty cases and evidence collection
ways of increasing awareness of animal cruelty laws
whether an ongoing Anti-Animal Abuse Board should be created, and if so, an outline of its function and mission
“The protection and safety of animals in the City of Baltimore is an important concern,” says Mayor Dixon. “This is more than a legal issue. This is a community issue. If you improve animal welfare in a community, you improve public safety for everyone.”
Read more about Baltimore’s Anti-Animal Abuse Task Force at ASPCA.org.
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3. ASPCA Happy Tails: Undercover Snuggler
This past February, New Yorker Violaine Esnault came to the ASPCA Adoption Center with a special Pit Bull on her mind. Spud had been rescued from a neglectful home by ASPCA Humane Law Enforcement Agents and had been made ready for adoption by our anti-cruelty veterinarians and adoptions staff. “I saw Spud’s video on your website and fell in love with his ears and facial expressions,” Violaine recalls. “When I saw him in person, sitting in his glass enclosure with those super expressive eyes, I just had to play with him.” Meeting Spud in a play room sealed the deal. Spud eagerly ran into Violaine’s arms without a moment's hesitation.
The one-year-old pup was a little confused when arriving at his new home, but never veered from his sweet disposition. “He was excited and nippy, but in a loving way,” Violaine explains. Now he’s gotten so laid back that couch potato is a more apt description. “We were told he would be very high maintenance, which at times he is,” Violaine admits, “but what surprises me is that more than anything else, he likes to snuggle up with me on the couch.”
In fact, Spud makes great efforts to maintain his snuggling schedule. Says Violaine, “Spuddy knows that he’s not supposed to sleep in our bed―he’s got his own. But every morning, he wakes us with this low-pitch whimpering that just gets louder and louder. We end up letting him into our bed, where he just falls right back to sleep. Who knew?”
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