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Dogfighters force miserable, terror-filled lives on Valley dogs

Published: Sun, January 15, 2012 @ 12:01 a.m.




Somewhere in the Mahoning Valley, on virtually every weekend and more often in warmer months, there is an impromptu dogfight being conducted, and officials are constantly trying to put an end to the activity.

One of the most recent examples of dogfighting discovered in the area occurred at a house on the South Side where several dogs were found in deplorable conditions. The West Myrtle Avenue home contained makeshift fighting rings and areas where the dogs were being held.

Dave Nelson, deputy dog warden for Mahoning County, said concerned citizens were instrumental in helping officials identify and handle the house, but the problem exists across the area, and the dog warden’s office and police are constantly chasing down the offenders.

Janette Reever, deputy manager of animal fighting for the Humane Society, said the number of people nationally involved in the illegal, clandestine world of dogfighting is astounding.

“There is estimated to be 40,000 people involved in professional dogfighting where they are doing this full time,” she said. “That is not including the amateurs and street-level people just getting involved in this activity.”

Nelson said most fights are set up on the spur of the moment with a text message or call from a cellphone. Those involved simply give a time and a place, and the fight is on.

There often are bets placed on the outcome of the fight, but Nelson said the money is not the driving force in smaller areas such as Youngstown with impromptu fights.

“It’s a problem with the younger backyard and basement dogfighters that is drawing the attention of people,” he said. “Here, it is more for the blood, gore and excitement of seeing these dogs tear each other apart. Down in larger areas like Columbus, it’s a big-money thing, and they are much more organized.”

Nelson said he has heard stories of dogfighters getting involved in “trunking,” where two large dogs are placed in the trunk of a car while the music is turned up and the car is driven around for 20 minutes. The dog still alive in the trunk is the winner.

Gwen Logan, executive dog warden for Trumbull County, said dogfighting in the county is less prevalent and not as often seen as in neighboring counties.

“There is a problem here, but it is more under the radar,” she said. “We are on the lookout for it and very much aware of the signs of dogfighting.”

Nelson said one difficulty in stopping the dogfighting in any area is manpower.

Because the fights are set up on a moment’s notice, he said, it can be difficult for law enforcement to organize and go in to stop it before the fighting is over and the responsible parties are long gone.

Nelson said most people involved also will have the fights in the late-night hours in obscure locations where they are less likely to be noticed or caught.

Logan and Nelson said manpower is the key to better combating the problem but understand how busy officers are.

Reever said the lives of animals involved in the world of dogfighting is miserable. She said most dogs are left out in the weather attached to heavy chains between fights.

“It’s like a jail sentence or sitting on a death sentence,” she continued. “They know they will either die on the chain, be killed in a fight or killed after the fight if they do not perform well.”

Reever added that only dogs who “earn their keep” by repeatedly being bred live long in the dogfighting world. Those dogs, she said, also face a miserable existence tied to a heavy chain until they are strapped to a dog-breeding stand for mating purposes.

Nelson and Reever said it is imperative that the general public help officials combat the problem by being aware of suspicious activity, such as people congregating with large groups of dogs, dog activity at obscure abandoned places, reporting on stolen dogs, and dogs that appear to have combat wounds and injuries.

“This is a problem all over the country, and it’s been going on since the beginning of time. All you can do is keep up the groundwork and follow up from there,” Nelson said. “It makes me concerned, and I have to get out the information so people know what to look for.”

Dogfighting came to the national forefront five years ago when NFL quarterback Michael Vick pleaded guilty to federal felony charges and served 21 months in prison, followed by two months in home confinement for his involvement in a dogfighting ring that had operated for years.


1Tbal(2 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

It's funny how people can actually post the most disgusting comments on an article that is meant to bring awareness to such a disgusting act. How dare you say that animals have no rights? Especially domesticated animals? Animals that protect us, and love us unconditionally. They deserve just as much protection as we do. We as humans have a voice and ways of protecting ourselves, and we are the RIGHTS that will stand up for them. At least those of us strong enough to have a voice, and a heart, and know how to LOVE... But I guess you wouldn't know anything about any of that. Especially LOVE. The big bad talk must be overcompensating for something. Gambling is one thing for money, but NEVER at the expence of a living breathing thing...Funny you mention about our society... Our society is also taught to take GOD out of our schools, politics, and our work places... Look where that has gotten us. Sad that there are people out there who actually feel that these animals deserve to be treated so horribly. Sad that there are people out there that can justify reasons to do such terrible things. I will pray for you all, but at the end of the day, there is a greater power looking down on us all and you people who have evil in you will be judged. Your day will come, and I truly feel sorry for you.

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2Ginger76(178 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

There needs to be a mass extermination of this one type of filth.

But in our pathetic state of Ohio, this filth and others (Crowley) will just get away with it.

If you suspect something, DO SOMETHING!!!

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3whitesabbath(738 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

Tbal, get off of your SELF-RIGHTOUS, POMPUS ARSE.
I will pray for you.
Like ginger said you see something do something.
Faith without works is dead.

Time to make these banks and homeowners take care of their property.

Make the banks tear down these homes.

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4jennytarbet(1 comment)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

I agree with Tbal!!! Animals do have rights. They look up to us to protect them and love them with everything we have. People who have no respect for animals need to be treated just like they treated those poor things. They wouldn't like it if we made them fight and we abused them all the time. These poor animals were left in a house with no food and no water!! They were left to die!! If I could I would adopt every animal I could just to keep them out of the hands of people like them. And talking about their dead bodies??? How SICK can you be? I think you need some major help buddy!

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5UnionForever(1470 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

Given the condition of the Myrtle Avenue house in picture, should it not be torn down? Youngstown is just a mess, and yes, dog fighting is a nasty sport. These animals deserve much better treatment.

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6db(280 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

Dog fighting is a ghetto sport and this is one more social depravity of the black community. Black folks need to clean up their act; poverty is no excuse for a lack of conscience.

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7Lifes2Short(3877 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

"Nelson said he has heard stories of dogfighters getting involved in “trunking,” where two large dogs are placed in the trunk of a car while the music is turned up and the car is driven around for 20 minutes. The dog still alive in the trunk is the winner."

This is sick, as are the useless, pitiful cockroaches that do this. Just for fun? Get a freaking job and become productive members of society instead of being such useless trash.

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8db(280 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

Somehow I don't think that the black community is living up to Martin Luther King's statement about judging a man by the content of his heart. Dog fighters are scum to the core. Torturing, killing, & maiming dogs isn't cool, it's not fun, and it shows a complete lack of conscience & moral fiber. The community knows where these fights occur and they know who participates in them but apparently they either approve or tolerate this activity. Severe penalties including jail time, property forfeiture, and elimination from all welfare programs needs to be implemented.

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9kensgirl(634 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

A couple years ago a friend of mine living on Ytown's south side called me to tell me of a pit bull tied up in his next door neighbor's back yard in the freezing rain without shelter. After several calls to authoriies the only people that came to help were the Ytown police. Only then did a humane agent come. The dog was so cold he actually WANTED to go with him. The agent confronted the people who lived there and they denied it was their dog. What liars! The agent said "OK" then left. They got off scott free!!! I wanted to adopt this poor dog but was told they don't let the public adopt pit bulls and it was put down. If I had known that justice would not be served I would have driven over to the house and stolen the dog and raised him with dignity. Not all pits are vicious. It's how they're bred. What a joke the humane society is. People who hurt animals will certainly go on to hurt humans. It's a proven cycle. We need harsher laws or better humane agents!

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10wmg(7 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

Well, Carlstaatz, I for one want our "culture" here in America to stand for better. BUT if YOU are into exploring and fighting the war on different "cultures", may I suggest you explore and participate in the Pentecost island "culture" of naghol. Good luck because I certainly wouldn't want to eat THAT gelatin. Go forth warrior, and I hope a dog lover doesn't cut your vine.

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11Southsidepride(3 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

The point of this article is to raise AWARENESS, and to raise CONCERNS. Pit bulls and fight dogs are stigmatized, I can speak from PERSONAL experience not all of these dogs are bad or hopeless.
We rescued a pit mix pup, who was apparently used as a bait dog- she had all the classic signs, a scarred face, timid, scared of humans, very scared in general.
It has been about 3 years we have her and i can honestly say she is coming around and has been worth every minute of work.
These dogs deserve more from us humans, but our issue is- owners not affording or wanting to have their dogs fixed.
Owners who can barely pay the bills with dogs, who are left in the cold and on the streets.
Overpopulation of animals.
And cruelty.
I wonder if these dogs were Yorkies/poodles if they'd be forced to fight? no.
I wonder how many people actually see the value in hard working committed no-kill shelters like Alchemy Acres over paying a ridiculous amount of money for a pure bred dog?
I wonder how many people are willing to go to the pound and give a dog a second chance?

These dogs have done NOTHING to deserve the cruel conditions they face.

So I beg of you on this board, rather than put your personal issues on the table, THINK OF THE DOGS FIRST.

Help one today, please. Donate to a rescue, take a dog for a walk at the pound- they need dog walkers-and finally RESCUE a dog, don't get one bred, don't visit a puppy mill. Please save a dog and give them a second chance. It will be the most beneficial experience of your life.

Like our little rescue, those dogs not only remember what you did for them, they love you for it, unconditionally. I can't say how much her love means to us, but she truly is a blessing each and every day.

Dogs are creatures left in our care, innocent lives that our Higher Power entrusted with us. Please think of the dogs first. We can all fight with one other on another day, unlike humans, not all dogs want to fight, they don't have opinions, they dont' judge, they don't have prejudice.
They have love. Please share it today.

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12leftyompton4life(79 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

Can you guys please stop calling it a sport.

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13kensgirl(634 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

Just as a secondary note - there are no stray cat laws either. Feral cats are everywhere with no one to protect them. They usually starve to death or are eaten alive by other animals. I tried getting help for the ones near my home and again the Mahoning County humane agent was useless. It doesn't matter what kind of animal it is all animals should be treated with respect and dignity. I don't think God intended mankind to torture and mutilate any living and breathing thing. Like the song goes: "Bless the beasts and the children, for in this world they have no voice, they have no choice".

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14Southsidepride(3 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

Majority of them removed from the home were, majority of most dogs involved are either American bulldogs, Pitt bulls and other bully breeds. It's said the once all American dog, the Pitt bull- think th elittle rascals- is now vilified because of a humans actions.

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15southsidedave(4805 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

People who abuse animals with answer to God for their actions...

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16Tbal(2 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

White Sabbath, I am far from self righteous, or Pompous... I have done something. I have saved many animals, so before you judge me because I have God in my life, know what you are talking about. But this isn't about me, this is about the animals. This isn't a racial thing either... There are many cultures out there that participate in this disgusting act, and should be punished. Too bad we don't punish with the "Eye for an Eye" method, because I guarantee things would change. But since we just offer a slap on the wrist many people get away with murder... Literally. You are killing these animals for the fun of the game... SICK. Yes I will pray for these people, as they are EVIL!. Carlstaatz... Move to one of these countries you are talking about. Justifying what other countries do does not make it right, it makes it easier for you to accept. PATHETIC. As far as quoting Genesis 9:3, does that mean we should be canibals? I mean we are living and moving? This article was meant to show awareness to what is happening around us...It's sad people actually defend this. Truly sad. Karma's out there people... It will find you

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17MD2012(2 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

Let's all take a moment to realize which type of people are doing these awful things? I say for every person we find who are participating in this cruel act we should force them to live in those conditions and fight each other until death while we take bets.

These people are invaluable and I would rather save the dogs then save their lives. They are nothing but worthless scum.

Anyone who has ever had a dog as a pet knows how amazing they are.

Find, Convict, and Kill these worthless people before they starting murdering humans. It's fact that most serial killers start out torturing animals.

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18MD2012(2 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

You are darn straight I much rather have a innocent animal survive then a disgusting piece of garbage.

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19nuganuech(46 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

Martin Luther King must be so proud of his people and the "content of their character".

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20BrothaLove(81 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

I am offended that every computer-cloaked bigot on this board has labled this a problem of the black community. You all can't be that darn stupid! I seriously doubt that the attrocities of dog fighting are removed from the white world... dare I say there are probably nationally more whites than blacks with blood on thier hands in this "sport." No, my Budweiser swilling, crouch scratching friend, you will have to get your racist jollies elsewhere. This is not the right topic...


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21kensgirl(634 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

CarlStaatz - Since when did anything about Hitler come into the picture?? And who do you think you are calling us all stupid gentiles?? We were talking about treating animals humanely! I'm sorry for what happened to the Jews during the Holocaust. It was a horrible page in history but don't hate the rest of us who had nothing to do with it. Keep to the subject matter. Only scummy d-bags torture animals. May they rot in hell for their actions!

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22Freeatlast(1991 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

Dog fighting is a ghetto sport and this is one more social depravity of the black community.
RIGHT!!! Why is it every small town white, right wing , tea party . bunch in WVA, GA SC, Tenn , KY . and southern OH. have dog fights every Friday night and go to church on Sunday , And are caled out as true Americas . HO that right they are white and tea . Some here are no better then the ones who do these awful things.Keep your hate to your self

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23nuganuech(46 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

I'd call you people animals, but that would be an insult to God's creatures. Just go go back to Africa and die.

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24Lifes2Short(3877 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

......Vick on people not understanding where he comes from:

"Yeah, you got the family dog and the white picket fence, and you just think that's all there is. Some of us had to grow up in poverty-stricken urban neighborhoods, and we just had to adapt to our environment. I know that it's wrong. But people act like it's some crazy thing they never heard of. They don't know."

I ask Vick if he feels that white people simply don't understand that aspect of black culture. "I think that's accurate," he says. "I mean, I was just one of the ones who got exposed, and because of the position I was in, where I was in my life, it went mainstream. A lot of people got out of it after my situation, not because I went to prison but because it was sad for them to see me go through something that was so pointless, that could have been avoided."

So that makes it right?

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25Barefield(1 comment)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

No excuses or apologies. If I catch anyone abusing a DOG; I will personally deal with that person in an extremely violent manner! Bottomline; I will most likely have to go to jail after I am done.

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26webad(156 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

Animal abusers are the same kind of people as are child abusers. Cowards. I'd like to see any of them try abusing an adult human. Some people just beg for a good ass whipping.

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27needakidney(2 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

happens all the time. Its terrible. instead of condeming it, we need to report anything that looks like dog fighting, help the dog pound and rescue organizations, etc. The measure of a person is how they treat the weaker, animal and human.

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28bsafeandproud(45 comments)posted 2 years, 10 months ago

The neighbors that turn a blind eye to this activity are just as guilty. The blood of these abused and tortured dogs are on their hands just as well.

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29WolfAxis(3 comments)posted 2 years, 9 months ago

Treat these "dogfighters" the same way the treated the dogs. Simple.

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