Revive dogfighting initiative

One of the dogs that was removed from the Surry County property owned by Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, is shown on May 22, 2007, in Chesapeake, Va. (AP-Photo/Newport News Daily Press, Joe Fudge)

Ten years ago, law enforcement and animal rights advocates made major headway against organized dogfighting in South Carolina.

The public learned the sickening truth about dogfighting, as well as cockfighting, and the Legislature toughened penalties for both participants and spectators.

The reappearance of dogfighting in various locations across the state should revive that initiative.

An arrest was made in Georgetown late last month, following a police investigation into a drug ring. Two dogs were seized by authorities and one had to be euthanized because of a broken back.

Arrests also were made in York and Gaston in recent months. In York, five malnourished dogs were seized and three people were arrested. In Gaston, the FBI was the lead agency in an investigation of a dogfighting ring — a spin-off from a cocaine probe. Forty-eight dogs, drugs, guns and cash were seized, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

“You’ve got a whole lot of circumstantial evidence that something’s afoot here, that there is dogfighting going on,” Brad Floyd, executive director of the St. Francis Animal Center in Georgetown, told our reporter. “It’s here, it’s there [in Charleston]. It’s just a little more underground now.”

That the statewide task force shut down operations when funding was no longer available is an indication that the law enforcement focus has gone elsewhere.

The task force, put together by former attorney general Henry McMaster, intensified investigations of organized blood sports, with the aim of arresting and convicting those involved in them. It raised public awareness of the horrific activity and was instrumental in gaining legislative support for tougher laws on dogfighting and cockfighting.

Animal fighting is a cruel, debasing activity that deserves to be eradicated simply on humane grounds. It is always accompanied by gambling, and dogfighting has been linked to gangs and the drug trade.

It shouldn’t be allowed to persist in this state. If it has moved further out of sight following the campaign against it, that shouldn’t mean that it is out of mind. The same reasons exist for again making organized animal fighting a law enforcement priority.