Dogfighting pressure

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Keep pressure on dogfighters; call Crime Stoppers

Nobody at the Panola County Courthouse can remember a felony case of dogfighting prosecuted here.

So when Panola sheriff’s deputies two weeks ago arrested four men in connection with dogfighting in the Curtis Community, it was front page news.

The arrests followed reporting by Panolian writer Emily Williams concerning stolen pit bulldogs and suspected dogfighting activity in the county.

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One dog owner had placed an advertisement in the newspaper offering a $1,000 reward for the return of his two pets, a male and a female pit bulldog. He eventually got one dog back, thanks to an anonymous tip.

The pet owner suspects his dogs were stolen to be used in organized dogfighting. The returned dog bore wounds that confirm that suspicion in the owner’s mind.

“These people have no morals,” the owner told The Panolian’s reporter.

The following week a phoned-in tip to the sheriff’s department alerted deputies of a dogfight in progress on Lamar Thomas Road.

Acting quickly, deputies arrested two men for dogfighting, and two others for being spectators.

Dog-fighting is a felony. Just ask NFL player Michael Vick, who served time for his involvement in a Virginia ring.

The reason it exists is that participants gamble on the fights. Someone is making money on them, enough to justify the risk of prison time. The activity is conducted in the shadows, away from public view.

The reason it exists here is that people have been afraid to turn in the fighters, fearing repercussions.

Panola County is home to a great many animal lovers. There’s an active Humane Society that works diligently to find homes for abandoned dogs and cats. The group is raising funds to build an animal shelter.

The thing to do is make Panola County an inconvenient place to hold a dog fight. If enough of us make enough noise, report suspected dog fighting activity to Carlton Hays, the sheriff’s Crimestopper program head, and otherwise discourage this felonious activity, maybe the dogfighters would have to move elsewhere.

If you have information about organized dogfighting in Panola County, call the Sheriff’s Department at 563-6230 or report it to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-729-2169. People who call Crimestoppers are not required to give their name. If information leads to an arrest, the person providing the information will receive a cash reward through an assigned identification number.