In March, the ASPCA assisted local law enforcement, the FBI and the Missouri State Highway Patrol in a multistate dog fighting investigation that resulted in the seizure of nearly 100 animals from multiple locations in Missouri, Kansas and Texas. Since then, an ASPCA team has been working around the clock to care for the rescued animals. We’ve also been fighting for justice.
That’s why we’re pleased that yesterday in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kansas, Pete Davis Jr., 38, and Melvin Robinson, 42, each pleaded guilty to one count of transporting dogs to participate in animal fighting. The charges carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison, and sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 9. Charges for a defendant in Texas are pending.
As a result of the hearing, dogs seized from the defendants’ properties in Missouri will be signed over to the ASPCA. We will explore placement options with various rescue groups. Dogs placed with ASPCA response partner shelters after this hearing will be the second group from the case to be placed for adoption.
Late last night, the U.S. House Agriculture Committee approved an amendment to the House Farm Bill to strengthen our nation’s laws against animal fighting. The amendment, introduced by Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), would make attending an organized animal fight a federal offense and impose additional penalties for bringing a child to an animal fight. This amendment is similar to the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act, standalone legislation with strong bipartisan support from 147 cosponsors introduced by Reps. Tom Marino (R-PA), John Campbell (R-CA), Jim Moran (D-VA) and McGovern.
“Animal fights are cruel and gruesome spectacles where animals are exploited and forced to fight as their owners profit from their torture,” said Nancy Perry, Senior Vice President of ASPCA Government Relations. “Children need protection from the dangerous culture of animal fighting, as well as its associated illegal activities such as drugs, weapons and gambling. The ASPCA applauds Representative McGovern and all our Congressional leaders for their continued leadership in strengthening laws to combat animal fighting and protect public safety.”
While clearing the House Agriculture Committee is a major success, we can’t declare victory just yet. The U.S. Senate’s version of the Farm Bill also includes the anti-animal fighting provisions, but both bills still must pass in their chambers of origin. Once that is achieved, the House and Senate have to reconcile any language differences prior to full passage.
We’d like to thank all the representatives on the House Agriculture Committee who voted to include the animal fighting spectator prohibition language in the House Farm Bill. If you see your rep in the list below, tell him or her thank you! You can find your rep’s contact info here.
Michelle Lujan Grisham
Ann McLane Kuster
Sean Patrick Maloney
Please be a voice for animals—join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade and we’ll let you know when it’s time to contact members of Congress about this and other important animal-related bills.
Today, we’re excited to let you know that the very first six dogs from the case are being transferred to animal shelters for adoption! That means they’re one step closer to finding loving families.
Three of the dogs will go to Wayside Waifs in Kansas City, Missouri. Two are going to the Kansas Humane Society in Wichita, Kansas. And the Kansas-based Great Plains SPCA is receiving one dog. These ASPCA partner organizations each sent volunteers to help out at our temporary shelter, and these lucky dogs will be heading home with the volunteers.
For legal reasons, the rest of the dogs rescued in our three-state raid remain in our care at a state-of-the-art temporary shelter, where they’re receiving lots of love and care, too.
In late March, the ASPCA assisted federal authorities in a three-state dog fighting raid and the removal of 100 canine victims. Tim Rickey, Vice President of the ASPCA’s Field Investigations & Response team, has been on the front lines of this operation since the beginning. Here's his report about the remarkable sheltering facility that has been created to care for the dogs involved in this case.
We're pleased to report that the dogs are being very well cared for while in the custody of the ASPCA. The ASPCA’s Animal Cruelty Behavior team has been in the field from day one to oversee the animals' enrichment, socialization and exercise to ensure that these dogs are receiving all the care and attention they deserve.
The dogs are housed individually in a pod system. The kennels surround a 20x20 exercise area that the dogs have access to based on a carefully designed plan by the exercise coordinator. The exercise coordinator works in tandem with the behavior program to ensure the dogs enjoy adequate time outside their kennels several times a day.
The environment is relaxed and quiet with a strong focus on enrichment. There is very little barking, a strong indication the animals are not feeling stressed during their recovery. Responders go in to provide daily human socialization and interaction, and provide them with enrichment items like toys, treats and lots of love.
Every effort is made to keep the dogs focused so they don't become bored, which can lead to destructive behavior. We have observed that the dogs are responding very well, becoming trained to enjoy their playtime, learning to cooperate, and adjusting to human contact.
Stay tuned to ASPCA.org for updates on this ongoing rescue.
In late March, the ASPCA played a critical role in a three-state dog fighting raid that resulted in the rescue of nearly 100 animals. A few weeks after this intricately coordinated effort to rescue dogs in Texas, Missouri and Kansas went off without a hitch, we’re able to update you on the dogs and the dog fighters.
When we found these dogs, many were doomed to live their whole lives tethered by heavy chains—and on the day of the raid, many were left outside to suffer through a blizzard. Now, says ASPCA Vice President of Field Investigations and Response Tim Rickey, they’re living in an entirely different world.
When the dogs arrived at our temporary shelter, our veterinary professionals, led by the ASPCA’s Dr. Sarah Kirk, examined them quickly and thoroughly. Some dogs needed immediate care, while others require ongoing treatment which they are now receiving from ASPCA and local veterinarians.
An ASPCA behaviorist will be on the ground at the shelter throughout this operation, and while the dogs stay in our clean and spacious shelter, they will benefit from behavioral enrichment programs that incorporate toys, games and lots of fun interactions with people. The dogs will have regular access to one of several large exercise playpens, where they’ll get to play with our responders and burn off excess doggy energy.
“Every day,” Rickey says, “we’re focusing on taking care of these animals and providing the best environment that we can for them.”
The ASPCA continues to work to collect evidence and provide other support to law enforcement, working to ensure dog fighters pay for harming these animal victims. The charges are just starting to roll in:
Last week Pete Davis Jr. and Melvin L. Robinson, both of Kansas City, Kansas, were each charged in federal court with one count of transporting animals for participation in an animal fighting venture in interstate commerce. If convicted, they face up to five years in federal prison and a possible fine of up to $250,000.
“The case is not over yet—there’s still a lot of work to be done on the investigation side,” says Rickey, adding that he hopes to see more arrests in relation to this raid.
The ASPCA had been assisting the FBI, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Missouri State Highway Patrol and other law enforcement agencies with the planning of this large-scale raid since November 2012. ASPCA Blood Sports Director Terry Mills provided his expertise to help these agencies maximize the operation’s impact. Our next steps: continuing to provide top-notch care for these animals and working with authorities to secure the right to place dogs in loving homes.
If you’ve given to the ASPCA recently, from the bottom of our hearts: thank you. This raid is an enormous undertaking and a huge commitment, but we are dedicated to being there for animal victims of cruelty whenever they need us. If you haven’t yet given lately, please consider doing so today. On behalf of animals across the country, thank you!