The Wheels Begin to Turn

Following up on yesterday’s post on Claire Ward’s travails with the Richmond bureaucracy in the wake of the pit bull attack that claimed the life of her dog and left her with several injuries…

…Claire tells me that a half dozen nuisance warrants were served on the dog’s owners yesterday. This is good news, because it means that, finally, at least a couple of the branches city government decided to speak with one another. And it only took a week (and constant pressure, both from Claire and the very wide, and very deep, circle of her friends).

More disturbing, however, is what officials discovered when they served the warrants: more dogs were on the property, fitting an apparent pattern where animals are acquired, trained to fight, and then moved on to fulfill the seemingly endless craving for blood sports in some areas.

I mentioned yesterday that there was a court order lurking in the background of this matter. Two years ago, the owners of the property from which the recent attack originated were cited for having abandoned more than a dozen dogs, some of which were diseased. The property was condemned, but the owners entered into a plea deal where they could keep the home so long as they never again had another animal on the premises.

That was obviously ignored, and ought to be the starting point of any pending proceedings…especially when considering that in the intervening two years, animal control was repeatedly informed that dogs were on the property in direct violation of the plea deal.

I also mentioned yesterday that dog fighting is a growing concern in the Richmond area. But after reading this four year-old piece from The Hook, it seems that the problem has been around for some time…and is far worse and more widespread than I realized. But here is an interesting nugget:

Northern Virginia and Norfolk are known as dogfighting hot spots, according to a local animal control officer. In Richmond, Speaker of the House William Howell asked Delegate Rob Bell to carry a bill that puts some teeth into the existing statute against dogfighting.

“Putting teeth,” so to speak, into existing anti-dog fighting laws is a nice thought. But as Claire’s case shows, there is a substantial gap between a lawmaker’s good intentions and on the ground practice. Richmond’s bureaucratic wheels are beginning to turn, however slowly. But that they are moving at all, I suspect, owes more to do with her determination than any sense of mission in city government.

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3 responses to “The Wheels Begin to Turn”

  1. Jim Bacon Avatar
    Jim Bacon

    I met a woman last night at the Gingrich fund-raiser for VCAP whose number one concern was the welfare of dogs. Now I have a clearer idea of what, apparently, motivates her. I don’t believe in animal “rights,” but I do believe in animal welfare. Raising dogs in inhumane conditions in order to fight them in blood sport is unspeakably cruel to the dogs — and dangerous to the public if the dogs ever get loose.

  2. E M Risse Avatar
    E M Risse

    There is a larger issue here that I did not have time to add to Mr. Leahy’s post yesterday.

    The story that Mr. Leahy lays out so well and the impact of governace inaction on a very emotional topic is just the tip of the iceburg.

    Big municipal governments cannot deal with personal / people to people issue well. Neither can state or federal agencies.

    At the same time it would not be wise to have Vermont Town Meeting governance deside nation-state or large New Urban Region policy, programs and actions.

    Did someone say we needed Fundamental Change in the Governance structure?


  3. Groveton Avatar

    A local animal control officer says Northern Virginia and Norfolk are hotbeds of dog fighting? He is local to where? Charlottesville, I guess given the text of the article. I wish the Hooj provided some facts beyind te anonymous commentary from some guy who obviously (from the article) has a big problem in what I assume is his own back yard down in Charlottesville.

    I have lived in Northern Virginia all of my life and have never seen nor heard of a staged dog fight. While it certainly may be happening, I wonder who is staging these dog fights and where they are being staged. I’ll see if I can find any record of arrests in Northern Virginia for illegal dog fighting. I have my doubts. For all of the problems we taxpayers have with county officials – law enforcement is not generally a problem. The Fairfax County police seem to be pretty well on top of things. I’d be surprised if they were allowing a substantial, underground and illegal dog fighting ring to operate. However, I’ve been surprised before.

    Or, maybe, the “local animal control officer” quoted by The Hook four years ago was just “popping off”. I did a Google search of “dog fighting” & “Nothern Virginia” and looked at the first 10 returns. They were all accidental cross-references with no actual semantic tie between “dog fighting” and “Nothern Virginia”. There were references to dog fighting problems in Chicago and Mississippi but nothing about “dog fighting” in Nothern Virginia. In fact, one of the articles was about people rescuing dogs that had been involved in dog fights in Mississippi and bringing them to Fairfax County for treatment and possible adoption.

    There are plenty of problems in Fairfax County including latin gangs and some pretty bad goings on. However, these issues are usually well publicized and the police seem to react swiftly and effectively. I am a bit surprised by the lack of publicity around these “dogfighting hotspots”.

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