BY TONY FARINA
According to the Humane Society of the United States, dog fighting is a sadistic “contest” in which two dogs—specifically bred, conditioned, and trained to fight—-are placed in a pit (generally a small arena enclosed by plywood walls) to fight each other for the spectators’ entertainment and gambling.
Fights average one to two hours, ending when one of the dogs will not or cannot continue, with the injuries sustained by the dogs frequently severe and even fatal. It is also true, according to law enforcement sources, that dogs are often tortured to make them fight so the blood sport can go on. All of us who own and love dogs are sickened to hear of such “contests” involving animals we know to be loyal and loving companions who share our lives completely. Dog is truly man’s best friend, but who are these people who could torture and punish these poor dogs for their own satisfaction and greed?
They do walk among us, as we know, and we were reminded of that this week when 54-year-old Edward “Boo” Bishop of Buffalo was sentenced to the maximum of 1 and 1/3 to 4 years in prison on dog fighting charges by County Court Judge Thomas Franczyk who also issued an order preventing Bishop from owning, harboring, or having custody or control of any animal for 10 years. He should have made it for the rest of his natural born life.
Bishop had been charged after Buffalo police and agents for the SPCA executed a search warrant at his home after receiving a confidential tip that Bishop was training pit bulls for dog fighting. Several injured dogs were located and five were so badly injured they had to be euthanized.
It wasn’t Bishop’s first conviction for dog fighting, and he reportedly comes from an environment that supports the heinous business of forcing dogs to fight to make money off of admission and gambling on the poor animals pushed to fight for the benefit of these wretched excuses for human beings.
“Many serial killers started out as animal abusers,” said animal rights activist Peter Reese. “The cruelty of it is beyond belief,” said Reese, who added that many of the animals put in the ring don’t even want to fight, and suffer horrible injuries.
According to the Humane Society, dogs used in these events often die of blood loss, shock, dehydration, exhaustion, or infection hours or even days after the fight. Other animals are often sacrificed as well; dogs born “cold,” or won’t fight, may be kept around to sic other dogs on.
It is hard to imagine just how awful it is, and it caught our attention as a nation a few years ago when NFL star quarterback Michael Vick was sentenced to 23 months in prison on federal charges related to dog fighting. Vick and his associates operated the aptly named “Bad Newz Kennels” which housed over 50 pit bull dogs, staged dog fights, killed dogs, and ran a high stakes gambling ring with purses up to $26,000. It was a horrible case and the nation’s dog lovers turned on Vick and he has never been the same as many people simply refused to forgive his behavior.
Locally, Acting Erie County District Attorney Michael Flaherty’s newly organized Animal Cruelty Unit headed by Justen Wallens prosecuted Bishop on his latest arrest, and Flaherty credited a tip from a confidential informant for leading police to the crime scene.
“They [the dog fighting operators] screen visitors who come to the fights, so it is very difficult to get in there,” said Flaherty. “That’s why it is so important that people with information on these activities contact local law enforcement or the SPCA and then we can follow up. That’s what happened in this case.”
Flaherty gave special credit to Buffalo Police Detective Kevin Biggs and the SPCA for helping to bring Bishop to justice.
“There are not many more crimes more revolting than those involving the senseless cruelty to animals,” said Flaherty, urging that anyone with information should contact authorities so that the abuse can be stopped and the operators arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
According to the Humane Society, dogfighters sometimes kill losing dogs, and even winning dogs may die from their wounds. Police often discover drugs, guns, and even murder in connection with dog fights.
This should come as no surprise considering the fact that anyone involved in the brutal and sadistic cruelty of dog fighting is probably capable of any crime known to man. The nation was shocked to learn that football star Michael Vick, who has since claimed to have turned his life around, was a part of the blood sport. But our attention span is sometimes short, and we need to be reminded that dog fighting is still going on, right here, across the United States, and throughout the entire world. Perpetrators who are found guilty of killing dogs in such an inhumane endeavor should face the maximum penalty a court can hand out, just as their poor dogs are punished for not performing in the ring.
It is very hard to find compassion for these people who would abuse and kill man’s best friend, and I for one would have no problem sending away people like Bishop and his associates for long terms in the pits of our state prison system so they could taste the life they have given to the defenseless dogs in their care in their inhumane activities. Kudos to the police, the SPCA, the district attorney, and all those involved in getting Bishop, and I hope they continue to get the leads they need to make more arrests and put some kind of dent in this awful business and let perpetrators know they will be dealt with severely if they get caught.