- 1. Help Us Sack “Dog Wars” App
- 2. ASPCA Assists Feds in Major Dog Fighting, Gang Bust
- 3. Missouri Legislature Passes Governor-Backed Puppy Mill Compromise
- 4. April Photo Contest Winners Announced!
- 5. ASPCA Happy Tails: Everybody Loves Rocco
1. Help Us Sack “Dog Wars” App
This week, while the ASPCA was busting a dog fighting ring in Virginia, our dedicated members and animal lovers everywhere were taking on a repellent, new dog fighting app called Dog Wars, which allows its players to feed, train and fight virtual dogs. When the news broke that Kage Games had launched Dog Wars, the ASPCA came out forcefully against the mobile app and encouraged our members to do the same.
Dog Wars glorifies dog fighting and lets players inject their dogs with steroids, bet virtual money and use a gun to fight the cops during a bust.
“This ‘game’ comes at a time when public outrage and law enforcement concern about dog fighting is at an all-time high,” said Dr. Randall Lockwood, ASPCA Senior Vice President Forensic Sciences and Anti-Cruelty Projects, earlier this week. Fighting dogs are often forced to spend their entire lives tethered to short, heavy chains. They receive inadequate care, little socialization and often go for days without access to quality food or clean water. During fights, many die of blood loss, shock and exhaustion.
The ASPCA is on the frontlines every day, helping law enforcement and animal welfare agencies across the country root out dog fighting rings and their supporters. Our most recent raid and rescue in Virginia (see the lead story in this week’s News Alert) is ample evidence that this problem isn’t going away any time soon.
Please stand with us against Dog Wars. We need your support to spread the word that the glorification of dog fighting—or any so-called blood sports—is far from productive. Sign our petition against Dog Wars and help us pressure Kage Games to permanently remove its app from the marketplace. Thank you, members, for your commitment to animals!
2. ASPCA Assists Feds in Major Dog Fighting, Gang Bust
The ASPCA is in rural Virginia this week after helping authorities remove 41 dogs, 13 of them puppies, from an alleged dog fighting ring run by gang members.
On April 20, nine responders from the ASPCA Field Investigations and Response (FIR) Team arrived on a Nathalie, Virginia, property to help federal and local authorities remove 32 Pit Bulls and nine Beagles—many bearing scars consistent with dog fighting—as well as process evidence and transport the animals to a new location.
The dogs, who did not have access to clean water, appeared thin and were plagued with skin problems and other medical conditions. Several were tethered with heavy chains to objects outside a rundown trailer home.
While conducting a yearlong drug and firearm investigation of known gang members, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) discovered that its targets were also allegedly involved in dog fighting. An agent contacted the ASPCA for help.
“Other illegal activities are often associated with dog fighting,” says ASPCA Senior Director of Field Investigations and Response Tim Rickey, “and our goal is to help law enforcement agencies tackle other serious crimes while also saving animal victims.”
As a result of this multifaceted investigation, four suspects, ranging in age from 23 to 60, are facing federal and state charges related to dog fighting, firearms, conspiracy and drugs.
As for the animal victims, they were triaged by the ASPCA and Dr. Rachel Touroo of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and are currently being behaviorally evaluated by the ASPCA’s Dr. Pamela Reid and her team.
Meanwhile, evidence collected will be entered into the Canine CODIS (Combined DNA Index System), the nation’s first criminal dog fighting DNA database, and the ASPCA will continue to work with law enforcement on this case.
“Organized dog fighting is a brutal form of animal abuse,” says ASPCA Animal Fighting Specialist Terry Mills, “and we are determined to protect our nation’s animals from this form of cruelty.”
Stay tuned to ASPCA.org for more information about this developing story.
3. Missouri Legislature Passes Governor-Backed Puppy Mill Compromise
We’ve been updating News Alert
readers since last summer about our efforts to pass common-sense, humane reforms for large-scale, commercial dog breeders in Missouri, the Puppy Mill Capital of America. On Election Day 2010, the state’s citizens approved Proposition B, the Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act—and animal lovers around the country rejoiced!
Unfortunately, Prop B’s victory was just the beginning of what has become a long, drawn-out saga of might against right. In a startling development last Monday, April 18, the Missouri Department of Agriculture, representatives from the dog breeding industry, and a few agriculture special-interest groups and local animal welfare groups announced a so-called “compromise” agreement on puppy mill reform. Legislators tacked the language onto an unrelated agriculture tax bill as a last-minute amendment, and both chambers passed it on Wednesday, April 27. Governor Nixon, who played a part in arranging the compromise agreement, quickly signed it into law.
“The ASPCA was not part of the negotiations and does not support the agreement,” says Cori Menkin, ASPCA Senior Director of Legislative Initiatives. “The language crafted by the participating groups is far from an actual compromise—instead, it guts many of the core provisions to protect dogs in commercial breeding facilities passed by voters last November.”
The agreement, which will nullify Prop B, allows the stacking of cages, leaves temperature, exercise and veterinary care requirements unenforceable, allows female dogs to be bred at every heat cycle with no rest between litters, and places no limit on the number of dogs a breeder may keep. Most significantly, it does not set specific standards, but defers to those set by the Missouri Department of Agriculture—which is free to change or lower these standards at will.
The ASPCA is willing to do whatever it takes to make sure the will of the voters is honored; to that end, we are poring over new language to determine our next steps. We are far from defeated, and the movement to protect thousands of dogs in Missouri’s puppy mills is not over! You can help by continuing to spread the word—please share this article via Facebook and Twitter.
4. April Photo Contest Winners Announced!
In honor of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month this April, we asked you to submit your cutest shots of an animal you rescued from a tragic or abusive situation. As the month draws to a close, we’re very pleased to announce the winners of the ASPCA’s “I Saved My Pet!” Photo Contest.
We received so many amazing entries that we had to enlist the help of an expert panel of ASPCA judges to narrow down the contenders. Now it’s time to present you with the top five winning photos—from a bunny-loving kitty rescued from a hoarder to a mini pup abandoned in a Burger King dumpster, you won’t be able to resist these darling mugs and their bittersweet stories.
Check out our full list of winners—as well as several honorable mentions (we couldn’t resist!)—and many congratulations to all the winners!!
5. ASPCA Happy Tails: Everybody Loves Rocco
Baby boy Shain arrived at the ASPCA Adoption Center in October 2010 when he was just a few months old—but this darling Shepherd/Collie mix didn’t last long under our roof. He soon met Janet and Michael Kelleher of Staten Island, who fell for the dog’s exuberance and inherently loving nature.
The couple brought the young pup home that very same day, and the “51-pound lap dog” quickly became a vital member of their family. The Kellehers’ son, Anthony, renamed his new four-legged brother Rocco.
Janet says: “Everybody loves Rocco, and he loves everyone he meets. When we go for walks around the neighborhood, everyone knows his name and says ‘hello,’ even the paper man, Bob, and the mailman, Coop, who are usually afraid of dogs!”
Janet and Michael regularly bring Rocco to their neighborhood dog park, where the pooch enjoys the company of his “dog friends, bird friends and lots of turtle friends.” On Sunday mornings, they visit a dog run in Silver Lake Park, where Rocco gets hours of exercise and socializes with his girlfriends, Victoria and Peaches.
In just under six months, Rocco has wasted no time making himself at home and establishing his favorite things like snuggling, belly rubs and gardening with his pet mom. He also loves to take baths, and surprises Janet when she’s soaking in the tub by leaping in. The result? Rocco emerges from the bath squeaky clean and sporting a new ‘do called the Ro-hawk.
A grateful Janet writes: “Thank you to everyone at the ASPCA Adoption Center for taking such good care of Rocco—you guys are the best!”
Want to read more adoption success stories? Check out our Happy Tails archive!