October 20, 2007
It seems the ASPCA was not any more thrilled than I was about the NY Post article and they pretty much called most of lacking fact as well as merit.
A big thank you to the contributor that sent this in to me.
ASPCA Refutes Media Reports Citing New York City As The ‘Dogfight Capital of the World‘
NEW YORK, October 15, 2007’The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) today refuted recent media reports claiming that New York City is the ‘Dogfight Capital of the World.‘
‘The ASPCA was founded 141 years ago specifically as a law enforcement agency to enforce New York City’s animal cruelty laws,‘ said ASPCA President & CEO, Ed Sayres. ‘Since then, our scope has grown considerably; and today, we are on the forefront of investigating and fighting animal cruelty not just in New York, but all around the country.
‘There is no credible evidence that New York City is the ‘˜underground capital of dog fighting,’ as stated in an article in yesterday’s New York Post, which attributes much of the information in the article to a source outside the ASPCA,‘ continued Sayres.
‘In fact, what surprises me is that the story cites only anonymous informants and Web sites. Further, the ‘˜lead’ that was purportedly supplied to the ASPCA in 2006 was, in fact, looked into by our Humane Law Enforcement (HLE) agents, but when they asked for further, credible, information, none was supplied.‘
Contrary to the Post’s story, the ASPCA rarely sees arrests for dog fighting and related activities; as such, it believes that organized dog fighting is not widely prevalent in the area. On occasion, ASPCA HLE agents have witnessed the peripheral effects and elements of dog fighting, which include injured dogs and dog fighting paraphernalia’but certainly nothing on the scale implied by the recent news story. Reports of such findings are common in many major cities, including Philadelphia, Boston, Detroit, Chicago, New Orleans, San Francisco and elsewhere.
Dog fighting is a felony offense in 48 states, and the ASPCA supports rigorous investigation into all credible claims of anyone associated with dog fighting. Because of its depth and breadth of expertise in animal cruelty, the ASPCA often assists in animal cruelty investigations around the country, by providing expertise on prosecuting animal cruelty and effective use of veterinary forensic assistance in dogfighting and other animal cruelty cases. Most recently, the ASPCA assisted federal investigators in the case against Michael Vick, and also led the behavior evaluations of 49 pit bulls seized from Vick’s property.
The ASPCA’s humane law enforcement agents are peace officers who have authority to make arrests and execute search warrants, a power that is unique among all other animal welfare organizations. ‘As with any such authority, this must be balanced and applied with great professionalism and responsibility,‘ said Sayres.
The ASPCA Humane Law Enforcement Department upholds and enforces New York State animal cruelty laws in the five boroughs of New York City and in 2006 investigated 4,191 cases of suspected animal cruelty that resulted in 103 arrests and 295 seized animals. However, the ASPCA does not investigate animal cruelty in New York City to the exclusion of city, state and federal governmental agencies and often works in tandem with other law enforcement entities throughout the state.
‘Dog fighting is barbaric and unacceptable in a humane community,‘ said Sayres, ‘but to conclude that New York is the dog fighting capital of the world, based on nothing more than conjecture, rumor and anonymous informants, without providing credible evidence, and to suggest that all New York authorities have turned a ‘˜blind eye’ to this illegal activity, when failing to provide such authorities with credible leads, is ridiculous.‘
An Open Letter to the Editor of the New York Post From Ed Sayres, president & CEO, ASPCA
NEW YORK, October 22, 2007’
For the second time in two weeks, Elizabeth Wolff (most recently in conjunction with James Fanelli) has written articles on dog fighting that reek of bias, innuendo and point the finger of sloppiness and callous disregard at the ASPCA (‘Dogfight Capital of the World,‘ October 14; and ‘Dogfighting Lair,‘ October 21, with James Fanelli). Despite being given information by many of my staff over the past several weeks, Ms. Wolff seems unable to distinguish fact from fiction, misquoting ASPCA personnel and completely misrepresenting the true state of dog fighting in New York City.
Contrary to Ms. Wolff’s October 14 article, neither the ASPCA nor the city of New York has seen arrests for organized dog fighting and related activities in recent history (in at least the last 10 years); therefore, we believe that organized dog fighting is not widely prevalent in the area. We communicated this to Ms. Wolff on several occasions, but she seems bent on insinuating otherwise. On occasion, our agents have certainly seen the peripheral effects and elements of dog fighting, which include injured dogs and dog fighting paraphernalia’and we react accordingly’but certainly nothing on the massive scale the Post implies.
For a city that the Post describes as the ‘dogfight capital of the world,‘ your earnest reporter has located only one alleged dogfighter, who in yesterday story is shown in a photo apparently lavishing affection on his dogs. If New York City were the dog fighting capital of the world, surely there would be more evidence, or at least more complaints, of this brutal activity’but again, our officers do not receive many reports of suspected dog fighting activities.
It is interesting that yesterday’s article does not quote anyone from the Bronx District Attorney’s office which, according to the Post, is investigating Reyes, nor anyone from the Humane Society of the United States’ National Animal Fighting Task Force, which apparently provided Ms. Wolff with the information that Reyes ‘˜operates the city’s top dog fighting ring.’
Last week, Ms. Wolff’s story cited anonymous informants and Web sites that we have repeatedly said are not credible. Yet both stories end with statements attributed to the ASPCA’s Joe Pentangelo, assistant director of our Humane Law Enforcement division, who was called out in the more recent article as ‘confirming‘ that the HSUS ‘tipped them off to the Big Apple kennel last year.‘ This is completely inaccurate. When Ms. Wolff asked Mr. Pentangelo if he had heard of Ralph Reyes, he responded ‘no.‘ When she asked him if he had ever heard of Big Apple Kennels, he responded ‘yes.‘ This attribution is not only incorrect, but oddly out of place, since information for both Ms. Wolff’s articles was supplied by sources outside of the ASPCA. Further, the ‘lead‘ that was characterized as a ‘tip-off,‘ purportedly supplied to the ASPCA in 2006, according to last week’s article, was, in fact, looked into by ASPCA personnel, but when they asked for further, credible information, none was supplied. We also provided this information to Ms. Wolff, but she apparently chose not to print it’as she chose not to reference practically all the information we provided her.
For the past several months we have answered Ms. Wolff’s numerous questions to the best of our ability while maintaining the appropriate boundaries of professional responsibility by a law enforcement agency. Yet she persists in implying that the ASPCA has fallen short of its law enforcement responsibilities. The fact is, we cannot divulge information about persons or places that may/may not be the subject of an investigation unless we make an arrest, or the case is closed and is public information. This would be irresponsible and undermine the integrity with which we conduct our cases’also a fact that we have repeated several time to Ms. Wolff, to no avail. As such, there seems to be no point in further communicating with her.
You have certainly provided Ms. Wolff an ample forum to broadcast her beliefs. I expect that you will do the ASPCA the same courtesy but this time, print the accurate facts I have provided to you two weeks in a row. As the country’s oldest animal welfare organization’one that was specifically founded as a law enforcement agency and is proud of its legacy’you owe this to us, as well as the New Yorkers we are so proud to serve.