Local News

ASPCA trains dog-fight investigators

PITTSFORD—Due to numerous tips regarding dog fighting activities in Vermont, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has partnered with the Vermont Police Academy to train local animal control officers, law enforcement officers and humane society agents from across the state on how to investigate the increasingly prevalent crime of organized animal fighting. Attendees gathered at the Vermont Police Academy in Pittsford on Friday, Oct. 3 for an all day training where they learned how to respond to aggressive dogs with non-lethal force, a critical skill in the wake of continuing dog fatalities committed by law enforcement across the country.

Vermont law enforcement and humane societies have received recent complaints about dog fighting activities state-wide, which is why they have decided to undergo this training. Dog fighting often involves other crimes, such as drugs, weapons and parole violations, police have found. Estimates suggest that the number of people involved in dog fighting in the U.S. is in the tens of thousands. More than one in three U.S. households own a dog, making humane dog- handling skills a necessity for law enforcement everywhere.

ASPCA experts Terry Mills and Dr. Pamela Reid provided law enforcement with techniques for investigating dog fighting and responding to potentially dangerous dogs, as well as displaying dog fighting paraphernalia often overlooked by law enforcement, such as break sticks, weighted collars and drugs used to increase aggression in dogs. Experts also presented tactics used during several landmark cases, including the second largest dog fighting raid in U.S. history, in which 367 dogs were seized.

Mills is considered one of the foremost animal fighting experts in the country. Prior to joining the ASPCA, Mills served as an undercover officer for the Missouri State Highway Patrol to gain access to the underground world of organized dog fighting, helping to prosecute nearly 100 defendants and seize more than 500 dogs. Dr. Reid is a renowned animal behaviorist who has evaluated the behavior of thousands of dogs from various dog fighting cases, including the Michael Vick case. Both Mills and Dr. Reid have testified as expert witnesses in animal cruelty cases to help secure justice for exploited animals.

For more information visit www.aspca.org.

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