Two KCK men charged in three-state dogfighting case

March 25, 2013

By TONY RIZZO

The Kansas City Star

Federal prosecutors have charged two Kansas City, Kan., men with participating in a three-state Midwest dogfighting ring that was broken up Saturday at a fight in Texas.  Federal officials have broken up a three-state dogfighting ring that they say trained some dogs on treadmills in Kansas City, Kan. U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom (center) spoke about the charges during a press conference Monday at the federal courthouse in Kansas City, Kan.

Federal officials have broken up a three-state Midwest dog-fighting ring that they say trained some dogs on treadmills in Kansas City, Kan.  Authorities seized 71 dogs, most of them pit bulls, over the weekend in Kansas, Missouri and Texas, said Barry Grissom, the U.S. attorney for Kansas.  Among the sites searched were a Kansas City, Kan., residence — where some dogs allegedly were trained using treadmills and caged chickens — and a northern Missouri farm owned by one of the suspects, authorities said.

Pete Davis Jr., 38, and Melvin L. Robinson, 41, are charged in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan., with transporting dogs in interstate commerce to participate in animal fighting. If convicted, each man faces up to five years in federal prison.  The two men owned as many as 60 dogs that were kept mainly at the farm in Harrison County, Mo., where fights were held on Sundays, according to court documents unsealed Monday.

Medical teams from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals are caring for the seized dogs and six rescued chickens , authorities said Monday.  Staff from Wayside Waifs in Kansas City and Great Plains SPCA in Merriam are helping with operations to care for the animals in a temporary shelter, ASPCA officials said.

“Dogfighting is not a sport. It is a crime,” Grissom said at a Monday afternoon news conference.  The charges and animal rescues were the result of a five-month investigation by federal, state and local law enforcement officers and the ASPCA, Grissom said. He said that partnership showed that authorities take the crime very seriously.

“We hope this will send a message,” Grissom said. “This kind of behavior has to stop.”

According to the allegations, Robinson used treadmills and weights to train the dogs, which sometimes killed chickens in the exercises.  A plywood box kept the dogs on the treadmills and Robinson allegedly would place a harnesses on the dogs and chain the harnesses to the treadmills for hours at a time.  Davis, Robinson and a third person allegedly removed two dead dogs from the farm this month and disposed of them in Kansas.  Witnesses told investigators that Robinson and Davis discussed traveling to Texas in late March for a large “dog show,” which is code for dogfight, federal investigators said.  Robinson and Davis also talked about plans to wager $20,000 to $30,000 on the fights, according to the documents.

On Friday, law enforcement officers followed the pair and several other people traveling in a three-vehicle convoy through Oklahoma and into Texas to a location near Tyler.  At Monday’s news conference, authorities said about 30 people were attending the fight Saturday night in a wooded area when police moved in.  One of the Kansas City, Kan., men was arrested there, but authorities did not say which one.  The other man turned himself in to authorities in Kansas.  Many people attending the fight fled when police arrived. “Like cockroaches when the lights are turned on,” Grissom said.

A similar joint investigation in 2009 that centered on northwest Missouri broke the largest U.S. dogfighting ring, involving more than 400 dogs. Though the case announced Monday was not as large, it still was a significant operation, said Tim Rickey, the vice president of the ASCPA’s field investigations and response team.

Rickey said the animals’ health is being assessed while they are held as evidence in the criminal cases.  The goal is to rehabilitate as many of the dogs as possible and prepare them for adoption, he said.  “In our eyes,these dogs have suffered tremendously as a result of this for-profit crime,” he said. “We want to give these dogs a second chance.”  Despite the disruption of two major operations in the area since 2009, dogfighting remains prevalent, Rickey said.  “My goal — our goal — is to put an end to this brutal and barbaric industry,” he said.

See video.

To reach Tony Rizzo, call 816-234-4435 or send email to trizzo@kcstar.com.

 

Michael Vick Has New Dog

Examiner.com March 5, 2013

Remember back in October 2012 when Vick and his young daughter were sitting at the kitchen table with a red box of Milk Bone dog biscuits? Now we know the identity of the puppy who chews on those biscuits. On Monday evening, Vick, his family, and a bodyguard were at a New Jersey PetSmart attending a class on dog training.

According to Crossing Broad. com the Belgian Malinois puppy named Angel is attending the training classes; this past Monday was her second lesson. She has four more to go.

Why are we not surprised that Vick chose a working dog? The Belgian Malinois breeds are often used as police dogs and in fact were part of the Navy raid team in the capture and killing of Bin Laden.

While many humane supporters will never forgive Vick for the egregious treatment of his dogs during his illegal dog fighting operation, Vick served 18 months in federal prison and finished his three year probation where he was banned from owning a dog. His past cruelties towards dogs will likely never be forgotten nor forgiven by a great many people and of course the dogs who died trying, but rest assured, the world will be watching.

Mostly everyone knew there was a dog in his family’s future when he announced he wanted his children to have a dog. According to Vick, his dog is “well cared for and loved.”

No one really knows if Vick was ever sorry for the dogs who didn’t win or didn’t die fast enough from the torture inflicted upon them.

Pit Bull Roundup in Southeastern Missouri

December 5, 2012

ST. CHARLES, MO (KTVI) – It was pit bull round up day in one small Missouri town.  Some say it’s not protecting the public, but claim it’s robbing responsible owners of their family pets.

It took place in Sikeston, MO.  Fox 2′s Chris Hayes found out about the program after learning about a sudden influx of dogs coming to the St. Louis area.

About 20 dogs from Sikeston were shipped up to St. Charles to make room for seized pit bulls in Southern Missouri. The reported pit bulls may have no reported problems.  Some may not even be pit bulls, like Yulonda Mitchell’s dogs.  Mitchell said officers took her brother’s dogs, even though she believed they were bulldogs.

She said her family dogs were, “…licensed and up to date on their shots.  We did everything, you know, complied with the City ordinance but they still wanted to remove the dogs.” Chris Hayes asked, “This was a family pet?” Mitchell, “It was a family pet.”

Yet she says no one touches the strays like we saw right after our interview.

Mitchell explained, “I said why don`t you guys get those dogs? (The animal control officers) say, well those dogs are just too smart for us. We can`t catch `em.”

Holly Jobe said officers almost got her pet.

Jobe explained, “They said they were going to take her because she does not like a man in uniform. Ha ha.  And she tried to go after him because they were tampering with her property and I told them they was not taking my dog.”

So she complied with a long list of regulations that only apply to pit bulls in Sikeston — put up a ‘beware of dog’ sign, get insurance, put on a hard collar on the dog, take multiple pictures and so on.

Mark and Jamie Buehrle started fighting for pit bulls nationwide after finding so many people who don’t understand.  Jamie said, “All they know is the media they see and the horror stories and the neighbor’s brother’s sister that got attacked.  Half of them meet (our pit bull mutt) Slater and then are rolling on the floor with him by the time they leave our house. (Mark says) Every kid that comes to our house goes right to him.”

The Buehrle’s faced a pit bull ban when Mark pitched for the Miami Marlins. So they moved to the suburbs.  Next year he pitches for Toronto, where there’s another pit bull ban.  Jamie believes the regulations have no impact on irresponsible dog owners.

Jamie said, “It`s people like my family that actually try to abide by the law, live up to your ordinances of your town, that it`s affecting.  Now it`s affected us twice in a two year period.”

Fox2 made five calls to representatives of the City of Sikeston, with no response. The pit bulls seized apparently risked immediate euthanasia. To prevent that, a Sikeston shelter sent about 35 dogs to other shelters.  Most came to the St. Louis area.  20 came to the no kill St. Charles Five Acres shelter.  They’re various breeds that now need homes in the St. Louis area, because of a roundup 150 miles away.

Some dogs went to local Sikeston area rescues too. SEMO Animal Rescue Alliance and Paws New England took in animals, both which are already overcrowded.  Other private rescue groups also helped take in dogs, keeping about 15 down in the Southeaster Missouri.

“The group ‘Best Friends” responded to our report by sending this alert for residents to take action – http://www.capwiz.com/

As of midnight December 5, 102 people had sent letters to Sikesont City Council members asking for a repeal.

Many towns recently dropped pit bull regulations, like Chesterfield and Wentzville.

According to the Best Friends Animal Society,  “300 Missourians have sent letters to Sikeston asking for the repeal within 24 hours”

See video: Missouri Town Seizes Pet Pitbulls

 

Missouri Town on Mission to Kill Pit Bull Pets, Residents Fight Back

Residents in Sikeston, Mo., are claiming their pit bulls pets are being targeted, their lives threatened. In fact, dozens of dogs were removed from their homes and risked immediate euthanasia.

One woman, Yulonda Mitchell, said her dogs — which aren’t even pit bulls — are licensed and up to date on their shots. She said they complied with the city ordinances, but still her dogs were taken by animal control officers.

Mitchell told FOX 4 Now she asked the officer why they weren’t trying to catch stray dogs. According to Mitchell, the animal control officer said, “Those dogs are just too smart for us. We can’t catch them.”

Another woman, Holly Jobe, said officers nearly took her dog.

“They said they were going to take her because she does not like a man in uniform,” Jobe told FOX 2. “And she tried to go after him because they were tampering with her property, and I told them they was not taking my dog.”

Jobe said she was then forced to comply with a long list of regulations that only apply to pit bulls in Sikeston — regulations that include putting up a “beware of dog” sign, buying insurance, putting a hard collar on the dog, take multiple pictures and more.

FOX 2 called the City of Sikeston five different times, but received no response. The pit bulls that were seized risked immediate euthanasia. To prevent their deaths, a shelter in Sikeston shipped 35 dogs to other shelters.

Over 300 people have sent letters to Sikeston City Council members asking for a repeal.

 

Calvin McCrary (and Baby)

It was a whirlwind courtship and it looks like the new couple have settled in nicely. Mom and Dad couldn’t be happier :-)

Dog Fighting Operation Busted

By Chris Conte

ASHLAND CITY, Tenn.- Animal rescue investigators say it is one of the most disturbing and largest alleged dog fighting operations they have ever discovered in the state of Tennessee.

Sixty-five dogs were found chained up, emaciated and abused behind a house on Buckeye Road in Ashland City on Thanksgiving. The dogs were found by accident after fire fighters were called to extinguish a brush fire, the same fire that nearly killed the dogs, in a way, also saved them.

“It’s just unbelievable that these dogs are even alive. This has been going on for probably decades,” explained Scotlund Haisley with the Animal Rescue Corps.

The organization spent the entire day Saturday cutting the dogs from chains and placing them in crates so they could be moved to a warehouse in Lebanon where each one will be evaluated and nursed back to health.

“It’s a living hell. Absolutely horrendous conditions, I mean emaciated pit bulls, infected, old infected wounds. Tons of scaring, broken bones, you name it. This is one of the worst pit bull fighting cases I have ever seen,” Haisley added.

Investigators haven’t charged anyone yet, but federal officials were in Ashland City on Saturday because dog fighting is considered a federal felony. The owner of the home where the dogs were found told officials he rents out the house and wasn’t aware the dog were being held there.

“They had no access to food or water, some of them had shelters others didn’t’,” said Haisley.

Officials hope to be able to adopt out the dogs in the coming weeks but say they first need to make sure each one is healthy.

To see live coverage, click here

Viral photo helps 19-year-old arthritic dog recover

A photograph of a man wading in Lake Superior with his 19-year-old arthritic dog captured the hearts of millions when it was posted online last month–an outpouring that inspired the dog’s owner to launch a foundation to help low-income families care for their aging canines.

John Unger says Schoep’s Legacy Foundation has raised more than $25,000 since Unger and his dog, Schoep, were photographed by a friend, who posted the image to Facebook.

Before the photo was taken, Unger and his veterinarian had been considering putting Schoep down.

“Without treatment, John and I were talking about euthanasia at the end of July,” Erik Haukass, the vet, told the Daily Mail. But through the unsolicited donations from people who saw the photo, Unger was able to treat Schoep and extend his life.

“Schoep is doing incredible right now,” Unger said. ‘The therapies that the people have donated–it’s like turning back the clock a year and a half.”

The foundation was created, Haukass added, when the pair “realized we had received more money than we would reasonably spend on Schoep’s care.”

“It could help another 30 or 40 Schoeps,” Haukass said.

The “Official Fan Page of Schoep and John” has more than 20,000 “likes,” and Hudson has been selling prints of the photo to benefit the cause.

“This 19-year-old [Schoep is] being cradled in his father’s arms last night in Lake Superior,” Hannah Stonehouse Hudson, the photographer, wrote in the Facebook post that sparked the outpouring. “Schoep falls asleep every night when he is carried into the lake. The buoyancy of the water soothes his arthritic bones. Lake Superior is very warm right now, so the temperature of the water is perfect. I was so happy I got to capture this moment for John. By the way, John rescued Schoep as an 8-month-old puppy, and he’s been by his side through many adventures.”

Hudson, a professional photographer, told the Pioneer Press that business is booming since the photo of Unger and Schoep was published–so much so that she recently hired her first employee plus an intern.

“I would say a 30 percent increase in shoots,” Hudson said. “Who knew a favor to a friend would turn into this? It’s completely surreal.”

Because of the public’s generosity, Schoep has been getting expensive joint laser treatments to reduce pain and swelling related to arthritis.

“He’s walking so much faster,” the 49-year-old Unger said. “It’s unbelievable.”

Lennox Killed: Sweet Dog A Martyr For Bully Breeds Everywhere

July 11, 2012 08:36 AM EDT

by Linda Shaw

Lennox may not have lived in your city, town or state. He may not have even lived in your country. However, if you are an animal lover then you’re bound to have heard of his plight.
Sadly, that plight ended today with one dose of lethal injection on a dog who did absolutely nothing wrong.

Lennox was killed.

No, wait. He wasn’t killed, he was murdered. And you know why? Because he “looked” like a Pit Bull.

The dog that caught the attention of animal lovers across the globe wasn’t murdered for biting someone or attacking other animals. He didn’t act aggressive. He didn’t even try to bite the dog warden who came to take him away from his loving family and lead him to death.

No, this was a good dog, who never showed signs of hurting anyone or anything. Yet he was murdered because he looked like a dangerous dog.

The story of the Labrador – American Bulldog cross has captured hearts around the globe with pleas on social networking sites to free him. The world has banded together to try and save this condemned soul, but sadly, the Belfast, Ireland, council had their mind-set on murdering him no matter what anyone thought.

For the past two years, his owners have tried to fight to get their dog back after he was seized for looking like a pit bull and then measured. The measurements gave the dog warden the indication that he was a pit bull — one of the so-called “bully breeds” — and therefore he should be killed.

His owners fought day in and day out to save him, but he didn’t know that because since the fateful day in 2010 he has not been able to have a visit from them once. He probably feels like they abandoned him and never loved him, which is far from the truth.

So, today, July 11, 2012, the world took a step backwards. Because even though this was the story of a dog, he was still discriminated against and murdered senselessly.

You’ve got to ask yourself what that says for the cold-hearted politicians in Northern Ireland, who will no doubt be pegged as targets by animal rights activists.

Nobody could save you, Lennox, but the whole world loved you. It’s just too bad you never got the chance to know it.

Photo courtesy of the Belfast Telegraph

Protestors try to save Lennox

Rona update!!!

An update from Rona’s foster mom 6.21.12:

1) First off, she is sort of a klepto and you’ll find odd things in her crate like: slippers, oven mitts, even my ankle weights (buff girl that she is:)).  She doesn’t destroy anything, she is just a “collector” of sorts.  So, if something’s missing, we know where to check first.

2) She loves lightning bugs (or fireflies).  She likes them so much in fact, that she usually begs to go outside around 8pm or so when it starts to get dark so she can admire them.  By admire, I mean, catch and eat as many as she can before I yell for her to come back in the house.  The massacre she can cause in 15-30 minutes is pretty incredible!

3) As usual in KC yards I’m sure, we have chipmunks that like to dig holes that provide a tunnel that exit in other areas of the yard.  For a while, Rona thought she “cornered” one in a hole she chased one into.  Probably for a good week, every time we would let her out she would charge/run to the hole to guard it…and she’d stay at the hole, waiting ever so patiently for the chipmunk to come out that she know was trapped in there.

4) She’s really into tennis balls.  My dog O’Malley likes tennis balls.  He likes to “peel” them and will catch/retrieve them when thrown, only rarely gives them back.  Rona on the other hand, will reliably catch, retrieve, and repeatedly give the ball back to continue the game.  I’m currently going through Physical Therapy where they’ve created a massager of sorts with a sock and 2 tennis balls to rub the knots out of my shoulders.  Guess who keeps “finding” my high tech PT apparatus, chewing a hole through the sock and claiming the balls as her toys?  Yeah, my sore shoulders do not find it funny!

Still looking for Gypsy

Two years later, owner of lost dog perseveres in her search

By SCOTT SMITH
THE PUEBLO CHIEFTAIN

Hannelore Lode’s home is full of life and love: There are dogs snoozing on the deck, curious cats on patrol, squawking parrots, ponds filled with koi, a forest of jungle-worthy houseplants — and hope. Lots of hope.

There’s hope peeking out from behind her couch: a stack of lost-dog posters.  There’s hope neatly stacked, 2 inches high in the center of her coffee table: a monumental two years’ worth of lost-dog newspaper ads.  There’s hope strewn everywhere: lost-dog fliers, old photos and a thick file of possible leads — phone numbers, addresses, notes and sleuthing results.  And there’s hope in Lode’s clear blue eyes.
“I hope for the best,” she says.
“That’s all I can do.”

A sudden loss.
Two years ago today, Lode’s dog Gypsy ran away from home. A horrific windstorm battered the pet owner’s Pueblo West neighborhood, ripping open the gate to her wall-enclosed backyard and allowing her dogs to briefly escape. All but one came home: Gypsy, a golden-eyed, happy-tailed, brindle-coated American Staffordshire terrier mix.

Lode immediately began her search.
She walked, she called, she drove around. No luck. The next day, she placed an advertisement in the lost-and-found portion of The Pueblo Chieftain’s classified section. And she’s been looking for Gypsy — and paying for near-daily ads in The Chieftain — ever since.

Understand that this quest is not a casual endeavor for Lode, 67. It’s an all-encompassing crusade. She has spent thousands of dollars on newspaper ads (she also regularly advertises in the Westcliffe and Canon City papers) and laminated fliers; driven thousands of miles throughout Southern Colorado while checking out every call and clue; and probably shed thousands of tears over her missing companion.

“She’s sweet, so sweet,” says Lode, who adopted 6-week-old Gypsy from the Canon City shelter about seven years ago. “She loves people; she loves children; she loves other animals.
“I don’t know, I just keep thinking she is alive, she is alive, she is alive. I have never felt like she passed on.”

Lode, aided by friends and family, has investigated every tip generated by her ads — and there have been dozens.

But they all have led to dead ends. The dog in question is the wrong color, the wrong breed, the wrong gender, at the wrong address, in the wrong town.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. Not Gypsy.

And the calls have ranged from helpful (one pit bull rescue organization in Indiana checked out a lead in its area) to cruel (“I had your dumb dog.” Click.) Lode’s investigations have taken her from Walsenburg to Colorado Springs, from Beulah to Boone, to puppy mills and rescue shelters, to farms, mountain homes and suburban neighborhoods.

She has exhumed bodies, examined skeletons in the prairie and taken bones in for identification — but still no sign of Gypsy.

On the trail
So where is Lode’s beloved companion?

Is she living with a man in a cabin near Westcliffe — a replacement for his dog that was killed by a mountain lion?

Was she found by a woman, who gave her to her friend, who gave her to her mom, who gave her to a fireman?

Was she the stray dog on the other side of the fence in Colorado Springs that desperately wanted to join the owner’s pets in their backyard?

Was she the brown pit bull found in a box with its head bashed in?

Nobody knows — and those are just a few of the stories she has explored.

Meanwhile, Lode continues to listen, search and hope. She has even used the services of the Gurney Institute of Animal Communication, which claims to be able to locate and “speak” with missing pets. No definitive answers there, either.

“I just don’t know (what happened to Gypsy),” she says. “And that bothers me the most.” “I love them all”

She gets calls every week and continues to follow every lead, no matter how old or unlikely —

“I’m on the road almost every day,” she says.

Lode spends much of her time returning calls and sending emails, driving to spots where Gypsy may have been sighted and posting and re-posting fliers in veterinary clinics, firehouses, schools and other public places.

She knows that some might view her behavior as over-the-top obsessive.

Her reply: “I would say to them: That’s my life — my animals. Look around: I have birds, I have cats, I have dogs, I have fish . . . I love them all.

“Gypsy is part of my family. It’s like losing a child.”

When Lode first started buying ads to help find Gypsy, the reward was $100, no questions asked. Now, thanks to the generosity of friends and strangers, it’s up to $2,000.

But Lode says she doesn’t necessarily need to have her dog back; she just wants to know where Gypsy is, see her again and be assured that the dog is safe and happy.

Says Lode: “I still believe.”

One year later – Joplin, MO

On May 22, 2011, an EF5 tornado struck Joplin, Missouri, cutting a mile-wide swath of destruction that ultimately left 150 dead and destroyed many more homes and livelihoods. ASPCA Senior Director of Field Investigations and Response Tim Rickey is a native of Joplin, and less than a day after the storm touched down, he and his team were on the scene, preparing the ASPCA’s multipronged response to the crisis.