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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Pitting Animals Against Each Other

When we drive through Kentucky I always see roosters penned in cages. I am not sure why they are caged but I suspect they are being raised for cock fighting. Lovely.

Why do people do that? If it is for the money, then tell me why does a sports star do this?

The brick house Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick owned on Moonlight Road in rural Smithfield, Va., is painted white. It has a white door, a white fence and a huge white gate that opens on a spare front lawn holding a white birdbath. In the woods behind the house, out of view from the road, stand five smaller buildings. These are painted black -- not gray or charcoal, but pure black, as if they'd been dipped in ink. They are set off from the house by a fence, also painted black.

Kathy Strouse, an animal control officer, was standing in front of those outbuildings as night fell on April 25 when a simple question came to her: Why the black paint? A moment passed before Strouse had an answer. At night, when most dogfights are held, no one would know these buildings were here.

Strouse, 54, is a member of the Virginia Animal Fighting Task Force, a consortium of animal control and law enforcement officials from around the state. She serves as an expert witness in dogfighting trials and teaches investigative tactics to animal control officers nationwide. As she and officers from the Surry County sheriff's office probed each of the back buildings and the rest of the 15-acre property that night, she saw what she considers unmistakable evidence of a professional dogfighting operation.