Philadelphians are reporting more cases of animal fighting
In Philadelphia, there's been a steady uptick in a gruesome crime. New numbers from the Pennsylvania SPCA show a significant rise in the number of animal-fighting cases reported in Philadelphia.
For 2010, there were more than four times as many reported animal fighting cases in Philadelphia compared to 2008, according to the PSPCA. People reported the crime more than 1,000 times last year.
Susan Cosby, the CEO of the PSPCA, said some were reports of cockfighting, but most involved dogs.
"There's different classes of dog fighters," Cosby said. "You're going to have usually young kids just doing it on the corner, testing it out: testing themselves out and testing their dogs out. As you have people who get older, they consider themselves actual professionals. Large amounts of money are tied to these gambling operations and they're often connected to crime: guns, drugs, and those affect the entire community."
Cosby said it's difficult to know how much of the increase reflects animal fighting becoming more widespread, and how much should be attributed to people being more aware and more willing to report it.
There is help on the way for Philadelphia's dogs and dogfighters: The Humane Society is launching an End Dogfighting Campaign in the city.
Rebecca Glenn-Dinwoodie is coordinator for the End Dogfighting in Philadelphia program.
"There has been a lot of attention in recent years and I think people are becoming more and more aware that they simply don't want dog fighting in their neighborhoods," Glenn-Dinwoodie said. "The Michael Vick case brought a lot of attention to dogfighting - the problem of dogfighting - and it has led not only to increased awareness but also stronger laws in many different states."
The Humane Society is launching the End Dogfighting campaign in Philadelphia at the Hunting Park Recreation Center on Thursday afternoon.
The Philadelphia campaign is modeled on a Humane Society program in Chicago. WHYY's Elizabeth Fiedler traveled to Chicago to see what's in store for Philadelphia's dogfighting scene. To check out her reporting and see pictures and video, visit the links above.