Dogfighting Raids Double
ESPN - Michael Vick was released from federal custody Monday, with the 23-month sentence for his role in a Virginia dogfighting operation expiring. On Sunday, ESPN's Outside the Lines took an in-depth look at the impact of the Vick case on dogfighting. One professional "dog man" known as Victor Lopez appeared in shadow only and told ESPN's Mark Schwartz that Vick's arrest "devastated" the dogfighting business. "I'm a professional dog man," Lopez said, "that's how I pay my mortgage, my car payments and everything else."
Authorities say Lopez runs a serious dog cartel with up to 250 pit bulls whose bloodlines are so coveted, that Lopez says the puppies commanded 5 figures ($10,000 to $15,000) before the Vick case. As soon as Vick was propelled into the limelight and indicted, the price range dropped to $1,500 to $3,000. John Goodwin, the manager of Animal Fighting Issues for the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), reported that the number of raids on dogfighting operations doubled from the year before Vick was indicted to the year after.
While professionals like Lopez have become less visible since Vick's indictment, the escalation of dogfighting amongst urban teens continues to expand. As Vick has become the "face" of dogfighting in America, it is his potential influence on young people that may help reduce this. Wyane Pacelle, the president and CEO of the HSUS, said, "Our goal is simple. End dogfighting in America." By engaging with Vick, who now wants to speak out against dogfighting, Pacelle believes Vick can be a foot soldier in this goal.
There is little doubt that the substantial number of pit bulls that wind up in major U.S. city shelters (up to 30% of shelter occupation and more) is directly tied to the breeding market for urban young adult dogfighting activities, as well as for the purposes of "status" -- owning the "baddest dog" on the block.
07/11/09: 8-State Simultaneous Dogfighting Sting; 450 Dogs Seized
05/25/09: Professional Athletes and Pit Bulls: Dogfighting, Abuse and Violent Attacks
02/18/09: Dogfighting 'Godfather' Ed Faron Pleads Guilty to Felony Dogfighting