People across Delaware are angry and worried that dogs are being stolen from yards, possibly to be used as bait by dog fighters.
Two days ago, I received a message from someone via Facebook: ”Would you mind posting a warning to Kent county residents to watch their dogs even in the yards. I have seen and shared 4 posts this week about dogs taken from fenced yards. Today’s was 4 eight week old pit bull puppies and an older German shepherd.”
Photos posted by two of the families are shown here: Bailey (right) and a puppy (below). Bailey’s family fears he was taken by dog fighters known to be operating in Milford. The other family had the four puppies and an elderly Shepherd stolen from their yard in Hartly. Commenters on No Kill Delaware’s Facebook page say that dog fighters are known to be in the Hartly area. (See posts by two families below.)
About 45,000 people have viewed the warnings I posted on the No Kill Delaware Facebook page about these thefts. Typically, several hundred people view an NKD post. It is also startling how many people say they know about dog fighting rings in Delaware. There have been @600 shares of the posts and a total of 200 comments on the NKD page and other pages (Facebook provides statistics).
“Maj. Brian Whipple of the Kent County SPCA said dogfighting isn’t rampant in Delaware, but it is here.” That is a quote from a recent News Journal article. The 2010 arrests of some dog fighters are mentioned in the article. But why have there been no arrests for three years? If the SPCA knows that there are dog fighting rings out there, why haven’t the police arrested these criminals?
I tried but could not find anybody in the state government with any responsibility for investigating dog fighters. I got the run around from the state police. Then I called the Delaware’s Department of Homeland Security, but could find nobody with responsibility for dog fighting investigations. Dog fighting is horrendous animal cruelty. It is also a felony that is typically accompanied by drug dealing, prostitution and gambling. As taxpayers, we expect the state to protect our families – including our pets – from vicious criminals. Who in state government is responsible and accountable for investigating dog fighting rings? While Kent County SPCA and Delaware SPCA are given cruelty investigation authority by the state, these are non-profit organizations, and it is difficult to hold them accountable. Who can taxpayers contact when they are concerned that there is no action?
Recently, a woman posted the following on NKD’s Facebook page:
“I had to call the humane society a couple times and report suspected dog fighting. Maybe it was the blue tarp hiding the backyard all the way to the roof…or the guys standing in front of the house letting others in…or maybe it was the barking of about a hundred dogs in the house? No one ever got back to me on what they found…if they even bothered to check it out.”
I have seen many other such complaints on Facebook. Also, a veterinarian told me that she has given rabies shots at a kennel in Delaware where she suspects there is dog fighting. Why didn’t she report it? She is apparently afraid that there would be retaliation from the dog fighters. Also, there is no immunity granted in the law currently for veterinarians who report dog fighting or other forms of abuse.
Perhaps there are people in our state who don’t care about the poor Pit Bulls abused into fighting. But what about the dogs and cats stolen from their yards and used as bait by dog fighters? Think of the poor families in despair, worried sick that their beloved pets are terrified and dying in agony.
Here is the post by Bailey’s family on Facebook:
“Bailey was our dog since Evan was born in 1999, he was recently taken from our back yard. Thru many many people in town we have learned other dogs & cats in town are missing. All older friendly dogs and cats, that would lick you to death. I have talked to a great many people and we are told there is a pit bull fighting ring operating here in Milford. Younger kids are stealing pets, then they train these dogs on them, drawing blood then worse. This is abuse so disgusting, your abusing the pits and these old good dogs. I want to blow the lid off this and I’ve contacted the police and other organizations. Please watch your pets closely, even though its a shame. Bailey was taken in broad daylight, thru a locked gate. Please share this and lets eradicate these people from the face of the earth. I hope Bailey is at peace, he was sweet lovable & just the best! <<>>>>>”
Here is the Facebook post by the family in Hartly who had their four Pit Bull puppies and German Shepherd were stolen from their yard.
“Reaching for help…. we had 4 pit bull puppies and 1 Shepard stolen out of our yard 2 nights ago in Hartley, De . They are 8 weeks and been raised together. My heart is breaking thinking the worst for them and my children missing their friend. Below is a picture of Beast…although we wish safe return of all of them, that’s a slim chance but offer a reward for the return of Beast…. NO QUESTIONS ASKED. Please pass around.”
Something must be done now to save the dogs and cats who are at the mercy of these dog fighting rings in Delaware. The police need to take these thefts seriously, not just write a report and put it in the files. The police should be out there investigating the complaints about dog fighters, not just referring people to the SPCAs. We pay taxes with the expectation that our families – including our pets – will be protected from vicious criminals.
To ensure that all of Delaware’s laws are properly enforced, there is a great need for the Animal Welfare Office that has been discussed by the Task Force chaired by Senator Patty Blevins. (see Animal Welfare Office Proposed for Delaware)