ASPCA Exhibit "Dog Fighting: The Voiceless Victims" Opens at Crime Museum

Exhibit gives an inside look to expose the horrors of dog fighting
January 29, 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C.–Earlier today, the Crime Museum unveiled "Dog Fighting: The Voiceless Victims," a temporary exhibit by the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®), offering an inside look at the tools used by dog fighters to raise, train, fight and kill dogs injured during this so-called "sport". The exhibit features evidence seized from dog fighting raids by the ASPCA, including the largest dog fighting raid in U.S. history in 2009. The exhibit also demonstrates tools utilized by ASPCA veterinary forensic experts, combining state-of-the-art forensic sciences with veterinary medicine to discover how animals may have suffered or died.

"We want the public to see that dogs used in dog fighting are the victims of the crime as well as individuals, not as instruments of the crime," said Dr. Randall Lockwood, senior vice president of ASPCA Forensic Sciences and Anti-Cruelty Projects. "We want people to realize the brutality of dog fighting, and see that it’s the greatest violation of the human-animal bond."

Some of the many artifacts on display in the exhibit are:

  • A treadmill used to condition dogs in preparation for fighting;
  • A "rape" stand used to immobilize female dogs for breeding purposes;
  • Breaking sticks used to force a dog’s release on another dog;
  • A spring pole used to strengthen a dog’s bite, neck, and leg muscles as he pulls or hangs from the end;
  • A handmade nailed collar used to antagonize fighting dogs;
  • A dog electrocution device used to kill dogs who lost a fight or failed to show sufficient aggression toward other dogs;
  • A pit bull skull excavated from a  dog fighting crime scene;
  • Clandestine grave excavation equipment used to carefully exhume animal remains to provide important evidence of dog fighting and animal cruelty in cases; and
  • Michael Vick’s indictment papers, providing details of dogs that were fought and others that were killed (copy).

"Although dog fighting made headlines five years ago in the Michael Vick dog fighting investigation, many people still aren't aware just how prevalent it is in so many communities around the country," states Janine Vaccarello, Chief Operating Officer of the Crime Museum. "Through this exhibit, we hope to show our visitors not only the extreme cruelty that dog fighters use against these animal victims, but also how they can contribute to ending the practice nationwide."

The ASPCA has been involved in the battle against dog fighting in America since its founding, including the Kit Burns dog fighting case in 1868. The ASPCA played an integral role in the collection of evidence against Michael Vick's dog fighting enterprise in 2007, including the evaluation of the dogs seized from his property. More recently, the ASPCA participated in the largest dog fighting raid in U.S. history in 2009, spanning eight states and resulting in more than 20 arrests and the rescue of 500 dogs. As part of the ASPCA's Field Investigations and Response department, the Blood Sports division was established to provide training to local, state and federal agencies and investigate blood sports, such as dog fighting and cockfighting, across the country.

"Dog Fighting: The Voiceless Victims" will be on display in the Crime Museums temporary exhibit space from January 29 through September 2, 2013.