Inside the Underground World of Dog Fighting Federal charges against NFL quarterback Michael Vick provide gruesome details on how dog fights operate, and who takes part. Once considered a sport, dog fights are now regarded as a federal offense in all 50 states. Guests take us inside the underground dog fighting world.

Inside the Underground World of Dog Fighting

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NEAL CONAN, host:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington.

There's been a great deal of talk about dogfighting this week, following the indictment of NFL quarterback Michael Vick. And to many people, the allegation sounds like something out of time. Dogfights have been part of American culture since Colonial days. But what was once considered a sport many years ago is now regarded as a crime by every one of the 50 states and by the federal government.

Still, as the Vick case suggests, dogfighting persists and recent busts in Ohio, Illinois and California provide evidence that in many places, it's thriving. Today, we'll explore who does it, how, what it involves and why tens of thousands of people are involved in activities most people consider barbaric.

Later, one of our regular visits with the Motley Fool. If you have questions about investments, as the Dow Jones average hits new highs and the dollar plummets, you can give us a call or send us an e-mail now - talk@npr.org.

But first, the underground world of dogfighting. If you've ever participated or watched a fight, give us a call. If you have questions about what happens and why, join the conversation - 800-989-8255. That's 800-989-TALK. E-mail -talk@npr.org. And you can comment on our blog at npr.org/blogofthenation.

George Dohrmann is a reporter for Sports Illustrated and he joins us now from the studios of member station KQED in San Francisco. And George, thanks very much for joining us today.

Mr. GEORGE DOHRMANN (Reporter, Sports Illustrated): Thanks for having me.

CONAN: And let me ask you a little bit about the history of this sport. Doesn't it go back to pretty much as old as time or at least as old as when man first domesticated dog?

Mr. DOHRMANN: Yeah, we see it back in England, you know, with bull and bear baiting in the 17th century. It came over to the U.S. and really gained popularity in the 1800s. It was English and Irish immigrants who would hold fights in New York City with bulldogs. But then, it was banned by the New York legislature and it became a kind of a rural sport and really moved south and then really boomed in the, you know, say, '60s and '70s, because you started seeing publications that followed it and a breeding registry for dogs.

CONAN: In the '60s and '70s, as recently as that. And it sounds, again, a little out of time. Why so do you think?

Mr. DOHRMANN: You know, I think that it just took hold in the South and became a part of the culture. I think, you know, we read stories about people having Sunday barbecues and there was a dogfight or going to the racetrack and, you know, behind the fence, there was a dogfight. And so I think it just became engrained and never went away.

CONAN: And that was 30 and 40 years ago, though. Why does it persist in popularity even as more and more states make it, I think, it's a felony in 47 or 48 states now?

Mr. DOHRMANN: Yeah. I think there's kind of a new breed of dogfighter now, and that's sort of the cultural dogfighter, the urban cool dogfighter. It's become, you know, those rappers who've rapped about in dogfighting - glorifying dogfighting. There's been videos. There's underground DVDs set to music. It's become this, I guess, status amongst rappers and athletes. And, you know, there was an interesting animal patrol officer who pulled kids in New Orleans and asked them what they wanted to be later in life. And a lot of them said dogfighters. And when he said why, he said because it's cool.

CONAN: It's cool. As you looked into this, is there an aspect of it that fascinates?

Mr. DOHRMANN: I guess there is. I mean, it's very organized. There's a set of rules - the Cajun rules, which are - which most dogfighters follow. You know, would set the standards for how a fight is to be staged, and purses and weights of dogs and things like that. There's people who used language like people who, you know, have normal dogs, you know - they say I love these dogs. I love my dog. And they write glowingly of their dogs on dogfighting blogs and things like that. So I guess it is fascinating that these people, that they have a -it's like an obsession the way some guys are obsessed with golf, in some ways.

CONAN: Yeah. People rarely bleed to death in golf.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. DOHRMANN: Of course.

CONAN: There's a whole aspect to blood sport that is just revulsive to so many people. And yet, many people involved in this culture, as you say, don't see it that way.

Mr. DOHRMANN: Yeah. I mean, they defend it. They say that the dogs were meant to do this. I mean, they sort of say the way, you know, a Labrador retriever was meant to retrieve, you know, a pit bull terrier is meant to fight. And they stand by that argument. I mean, they look down on people who view dogs as, you know, as playthings or family members. The dogs have a purpose and the dogs that they're talking about, their purpose is to fight.

CONAN: Our number is 800-989-8255. If you'd like to join the conversation, 800-989-TALK. E-mail - talk@npr.org. Our guest is George Dohrmann of Sports Illustrated. Let's talk now with Mike(ph). And Mike is on the line with us from Duncan Mills in California.

MIKE (Caller): All right. My comment is I lived in Mississippi for a number of years and I have a lot of friends who were involved in both dogfighting and in cockfighting. And when I challenged them on it, their response was that this was just a blood sport like any other, only it didn't involve a person the way that kickboxing or boxing or other fighting sports were.

CONAN: And I guess you, George Dohrmann, you hear comparisons to that all the time where that other people say, look, when racehorses break their legs, they're destroyed. They essentially race to the death sometimes, too. What's the difference?

Mr. DOHRMANN: Yeah. That's the most - this is the most common defense, and I do understand it on some level. But the key distinction, I think, is that, you know, a person who participates in boxing or say mixed martial arts has a choice whether or not they want to step into the ring. And, you know, a dog does not.

CONAN: Mike, did you ever attend one of these dogfights?

MIKE: I did. It just seems to me that if you're raising a dog by beating it and by starving it, that the dog really isn't left with a choice. It's left with a mental condition.

CONAN: Well, we'll have more about that later. But, Mike, thanks very much for the call. We appreciate it. And I wanted to ask you, George Dohrmann, there is something else that's almost always associated with dogfighting and that's gambling.

Mr. DOHRMANN: Oh, yeah. Like many things in this country, it wouldn't exist without gambling. You'll see purses - you know, in the Michael Vick indictment, we saw purses that were, you know, for around $26,000. You'll see purses that are even higher than that in a dogfight. A dogfight with a grand champion, you know, for a grand champion - a five-time winner for example, I mean - you could see those purses reach $50,000. And so, you know, they go hand in hand. There wouldn't be dogfighting if there wasn't gambling.

CONAN: And are there various levels of dogfighting? Is there the equivalent to the minor leagues and the major leagues?

Mr. DOHRMANN: Yeah. There's three classifications of dogfighters. There is a dogfighter that's off-the-chain dogfighter. That's a dogfighter who, you know, might just have one dog and find a street corner with another guy who just has one dog and they, you know, they just fight in the corner. They release two dogs and they go at it.

There's the hobbyist dogfighter who might have, you know, two or three or a few more dogs and will fight, you know, locally against others who are hobbyists.

And then, of course, there's the professional. And a professional really cares about pedigree. They care that their dogs came from champion lines. They follow the Cajun rules. They fight, you know, for fights that are of much higher stakes than the previous two I explained. So I think that there's those three classifications, and the professional is sort of way above and beyond the other two.

CONAN: And by, of course, it is illegal, of course, by federal law, everywhere in the United States. Is it likely to go away, do you think?

Mr. DOHRMANN: Oh, I think the exact opposite. I think that, you know, people say that dogfighting is booming, that with - you know, immigrants who are coming to the U.S. come from a culture where dogfighting is the norm -immigrants from Asia and Latin America. And, again, the cultural phenomenon, the people who've glorified it, there's a generation of kids who just view dogfighting as being, you know, a cool thing that's part of the culture.

CONAN: George Dohrmann, thanks so much for your time today. We appreciate it.

Mr. DOHRMANN: My pleasure.

CONAN: George Dohrmann is a reporter for Sports Illustrated and joined us today from the studios of our member station in San Francisco, KQED. And here to talk about what the Humane Society is doing about dogfighting is John Goodwin. He's deputy manager of the Animal Cruelty Campaign with the Humane Society. He's been kind enough to join us here today in Studio 3A. Thanks very much for coming in.

Mr. JOHN GOODWIN (Deputy Manager, Animal Cruelty Campaign, Humane Society of the United States): Thank you for having me.

CONAN: And beyond passing laws, as we've seen, the federal legislation has just recently passed, what else is being done to stop dogfighting?

Mr. GOODWIN: Well, the Humane Society of the United States has an extensive outreach program to help educate law enforcement about how to recognize signs of animal fighting in their community, things that constitute evidence. We provide intelligence on known dogfighters to law enforcement. We do work with legislatures to get the appropriate penalties in place. We believe that you have to have good strong felony penalties to really deter this activity, to offset some of the gambling money that's involved. But really, we have to have a multifaceted campaign here because we want to root this out of our communities and eradicate it.

CONAN: Do you agree with George Dohrmann that perhaps, at least at the moment, the trend is going the other way? That this is booming?

Mr. GOODWIN: I do believe that dogfighting has only increased and is far more pervasive in our communities than many people realize. There have been elements of the pop culture that have glamorized dogfighting. And now, we've got people like Michael Vick, that a role model for young people, that have been shown to be - I believe to be involved in this activity. And I think that sends a very, very negative message.

CONAN: When the dogs - the Humane Society will rescue dogs that are involved in dogfighting operations. As they're picked up, I presume the authorities turn them over to you?

Mr. GOODWIN: Well, what happens is when these dogs are seized from dogfights, they're taken to local animal shelters, not to us per se. And then, they're held there until a judge decides what the disposition of the dogs will be.

CONAN: And often, these dogs have been so trained to be fighters, the disposition of the dogs - there's nothing to be done with.

Mr. GOODWIN: Well, these dogs have been bred and conditioned to be very, very aggressive towards other dogs. And so we don't recommend adopting out a fight-crazy, game-bred pit bull because that creates a great liability for other people with dogs in a community. A dog that has been bred and conditioned for fighting is going to do everything he can to get out of the yard and get to that black Lab next door. And that causes problems.

So these dogs are euthanized. And it's a very, very sad thing because I have seen some of these dogs have been very, very sweet disposition towards human beings. And it's a heartbreaking. And I blame the people - I lay this - blame for this, squarely, on the shoulders of people that breed dogs for these illicit purposes.

CONAN: And that's again, not to say that a pit bull or any other breed for that matter is intrinsically violent towards people or other dogs. They are trained to this, and those that are trained - it's difficult to untrain.

Mr. GOODWIN: Well, they are bred in that direction.

CONAN: Yes.

Mr. GOODWIN: What happens is that, let's say a dogfighter - and you see this in the Michael Vick indictments - the dogfighter has a litter of puppies - let's say there's five puppies in a litter. And when they get to be about a year and a half old, they'll start putting them to short practice fights that they call roles. And then they'll do what they call a game test, where they'll fight the dog for an hour or an extended period of time to see if they'll continue to fight when they've been hurt.

And only the dogs that continue to show that desire to fight and that aggression are taken and then bred and used in the organized fighting circuit. The rest of them are killed. We saw very graphic accounts of how these dogs were killed in Michael Vick's property - electrocution, hanging, slamming them into the ground.

CONAN: Again, those are just allegations in the Michael Vick indictment. Nothing in that case has been proven. Those kinds of things have happened in other cases, though?

Mr. GOODWIN: They have happened in other cases, usually electrocution or gunshot. And so they weed out the dogs that have less of a desire to fight and only breed the ones that have the most desire to fight.

CONAN: More about dogfighting, how it works, who does it. 800-989-8255, if you'd like to join us. It's the TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

(Soundbite of music)

CONAN: This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington.

Atlanta Falcon's quarterback Michael Vick denies any connection to dogfighting, but the federal charges he faces paint a picture of an underground world of violence and abuse of animals. Our focus today is on dogfighting - who does it, where and why and what's being done to stop it.

Our guest is John Goodwin, deputy manager of the Animal Cruelty Campaign with the Humane Society of the United States. Of course, you're welcome to join the conversation. If you've ever participated or watched the fight, if you have questions about what happens and why, give us a call. 800-989-8255, e-mail is talk@npr.org, or you can check out our blog at npr.org/blogofthenation.

And let's see if we can get another caller on the line. And this is Ali Marie(ph) from Gainesville in Florida.

ALI MARIE (Caller): Hi. I live and teach in a rural community in North Florida. And my family and I noticed that over a period of weeks, we would lose a cat every Friday night, so we begin keeping our cats in. Well, I went to school and I asked my students how many of them knew or had ever heard about dogfighting in this area, and quite a few raised their hands. And one girl went on to give me, you know, details about fighting in our community. And so my question is do they use cats for bait? And I'd like to take the answer off the phone, please.

CONAN: Okay. Thanks very much for the call.

Mr. GOODWIN: Well, at the street level, there are people that are involved in dogfighting that will steal people's dogs and cats and use them as bait. At the organized level, I think a lot of these dogfighters realized it's not necessary when they are breeding dogs for that purpose. But they do have a piece of equipment that's used to get dogs in shape called a cat mill. And it's basically like a horse walker, where a dog is connected to this contraption and runs in a circle to get himself in shape. And it's called a cat mill because dogfighters have been known to put a cat in a box ahead of the dog to inspire him to run.

CONAN: Mm-hmm. And - but there are accounts of animals - other dogs, cats -being used as bait?

Mr. GOODWIN: All the time. All the time. We're regularly hearing about a dog that's found in a dumpster in Tyler, Texas, with his muzzle duct taped shut, who had bite marks all over him; Muncie, Indiana, we hear about that; heard about it in Mississippi recently. So you hear about that happening on a pretty regular basis.

CONAN: Working also to shutdown dogfights are people like Mike Duffey. He is a detective with the Pima County Sheriff's Department in Arizona and co-chair of the Animal Cruelty Task Force. And he joins us today from the studios of KUAT, a member station in Tucson, Arizona. Nice to have you on the program today.

Mr. MIKE DUFFEY (Detective, Pima County Sheriff's Department; Co-Chair, Animal Cruelty Task Force): Good morning, Neal.

CONAN: And how do you usually find out, get tipped off about dogfights?

Mr. DUFFEY: Most of the time, we're sent toward the dead, or the dying survivors of the fight are found by the Animal Control officers or other citizens. And the bite injuries are so characteristic that the only thing they can be attributed to is a fight. And whether or not it's an organized fight or a walk-by fight, that's part of our investigation.

CONAN: And so you usually come and clean up the mess afterwards?

Mr. DUFFEY: That is the way to say that. Yes, sir.

CONAN: Has there been an occasion where you've actually found things underway? A dogfight underway?

Mr. DUFFEY: No sir, not to date. And as Mr. Goodwin - I'll tell you this is almost like a clandestine subculture, and it's pretty much secretive, and law enforcement is not usually invited to those things. We're waiting for the day that a disgruntled participant would come forward and would be willing to be a victim, but that has not happened yet in our jurisdiction.

CONAN: Mm-hmm. Have there been occasions where you've been able to find the training facilities for dogfights?

Mr. DUFFEY: We see that on a regular basis and it's usually - the owner of the property would tell us, for example, that if you've got a dog mill or a hot walker and there is no dog in it, he would say, well, he is training ponies or he would have some excuse for having that apparatus on his property.

And without having documentation or a visual evidence of that being used for training the dogs for that, we've got nowhere to go with that. But we do keep track of that location and do some follow-up in the future.

CONAN: So it's, in fact, it sounds like it's difficult to actually prove this unless for some reason or another, you got a video or an eyewitness saying I saw this happen.

Mr. DUFFEY: Well, you sure did put a short leash on that one. That is exactly what our problem is today in the law enforcement cases that we have here in Southern Arizona.

CONAN: And no witnesses?

Mr. DUFFEY: No witnesses, and not being there when it's happening. But the way the state law was rewritten in 1999, owning, keeping, possessing or training any dog with the intent that it'd be used in fighting is now a violation. Being present at a dogfight is a violation, and we're hoping to use those parts of that statute for those people in that endeavor.

CONAN: Mm-hmm. John Goodwin, laws are different in different states, of course. And is the problem that Mike Duffey is describing, is that problem in a lot of different places?

Mr. GOODWIN: Well, Mike pointed out that the law in Arizona was amended in 1999, and that puts some important teeth in Arizona law. Forty-seven states now have prohibited merely possessing a dog with the intent to fight. The three states that have not yet done that are Georgia, ironically, where Michael Vick plays football.

CONAN: Mm-hmm. Not where his activities were allegedly underway. That was in Virginia.

Mr. GOODWIN: That is correct. Idaho and Nevada. Now, those three states ban dogfighting, but the other 47 states also prohibit possession of a dog with intent to fight. And most dogfighting cases are made not from raiding the fights in progress - because those are very difficult to find - but from raiding these kennels where they're breeding dogs for these crimes.

CONAN: But intent, Mike Duffey, is not difficult to prove?

Mr. DUFFEY: Well, the elements of the crime of intent might be, but the thing is if we look at the totality of the event - and they've got dogs, there's old bite injuries, new bite injuries, that kind of thing and they're not getting proper vet care - we've got a statute now that says that if they don't get vet care to prevent protracted suffering, then in fact that is a violation under the same statute.

There may be ways to arrest these people and get them to the attention of the court without actually having them be at a fight that's in progress. And we use all parts of that statute that came into effect in 1999 to try and shut those things down like that.

CONAN: Let's see if we can get another caller on the line. This is Dianne, Dianne calling us from Washington State.

DIANNE (Caller): Hi.

CONAN: Hi.

DIANNE: Yeah. I just - I wanted to thank John Goodwin for his good work on behalf of the dogs, which are victims…

Mr. GOODWIN: Thank you.

DIANNE: …and I also just wanted to mention that you'll hear very often that pit bull is only good for fighting. And I just wanted to mention that out here in Washington State, I have a program called Law Dogs USA, and we train American pit bulls for bomb and drug detection and donate them to law enforcement.

And the Washington State Patrol, which is a very august organization, they actually have seven American pit bulls right now in their program, protecting people up here in all those terrorist and such. And they're turning out to be some of the best dogs ever for that.

So when you hear people say that they're only good for fighting, the determination and intelligence and grip that make these dogs fighters, also when directed in the right directions, makes them incredible dogs in many other areas.

CONAN: Mm-hmm. Dianne, thanks very much.

DIANNE: Thank you. Bye bye.

CONAN: Appreciate it. Here is a related e-mail from Nicole in Chicago. I'd like to know why pit bulls are targeted for use in dogfighting. After all, you don't hear about the Chihuahuas fighting, and they're just as feisty if not more so than pit bulls. I presume if there are different weight classes, John Goodwin, then different breeds are used.

Mr. GOODWIN: Well, no, 99 percent of the dog fighting in the United States is with the American pit bull terrier because people have bred, for generations, these dogs to have what they call gameness. And that would be, in the context of dogfighting, the willingness to continue fighting even on the face of pain and exhaustion.

Now, these game-bred bloodlines, you know, this desire to just destroy other dogs - that's an artificial construct in canines because these are generally pack animals. So that gets diluted after several generations when you start to breed away from it.

They have to breed aggressively to maintain these characteristics that keep them just being so fight-crazy. Now, the program Dianne mentioned is a very good program, her Law Dogs program. We actually featured that on our Web site, humanesociety.org a little while back.

CONAN: Let's get another caller in. This is Maureen, Maureen with us from Cleveland.

MAUREEN (Caller): Hi. Hi, Neal. Hi, Mr. Goodwin. I've done rescue for many years out of the Cleveland area and I found multiple pit bull, pit bull mixes. And the tragic thing about pit bulls is that when you do find them, you don't know the history and you end up, in many cases, having to euthanize - and what the woman just said before was wonderful. That same intensity, that same drive that they posses that is directed that way is also, when directed properly, makes them wonderful dogs.

What troubles me is that within this cultural phenomenon now, it's at the microcosmic level like you say and it's huge, it's huge and underground in allegedly athletic more than just Michael Vick, allegedly. And I wish there were a way that we could - that it could be stopped. If you turn to the back of a magazine on dogs, you're going to see pit bulls advertised that are so huge and advertised with the way that implies what they're for. And it's heartbreaking to me to see an animal spirit manipulated perversely like that to turn them into the killers that they become in order to please.

And some of them, they don't want to do it. It's just heartbreaking, Mr. Goodwin. I wish there were a way - everybody in the United States of America in all levels of animal abuse could stop and save - this is pain, these animals are in agony.

And they shoot them up full of antibiotics and wait to fight them again. There's just - it's just so dreadful. I don't know how we're going to stop it because it is a cult. It is hidden. And people don't know even, like in Cleveland, Friday night - you can count on it. They do it in the basement. They have privacy fences around their backyards. They have whole workout places. And people who have animals that they just let them out and are pit bulls and boxers - they need to know they shouldn't let their dog in their yard and walk away because somebody driving by will see it and say, oh, man, I can use that dog to wet my dog down - all of these needs to be known. And it's so within the web of the culture right now. I don't know what we're going to do, but these animals are suffering irreparable harm. And the pain is real.

CONAN: Mike Duffey, obviously Cleveland - a very different place than Arizona, but is what Maureen saying familiar to you?

Mr. DUFFEY: Well, if she wouldn't have said several times that she lives in Cleveland, I would thought she was a local caller because it's exactly the same problems that we've got here. And we need to talk a little bit about species prejudice because we have - in place here with the Humane Society of Southern Arizona, if we get a pit bull - and if they do, repair medically.

They make sure that he's a social animal before they put him up for adoption, because we also do not want to put an animal at risk or a dog out there to be adopted. And they are evaluated for their socialness, if you will, when they come in to the facility.

CONAN: Here's an e-mail we got on that point from Elizabeth in Hercules, California. I can always tell which of the pit bulls at the pound - now 99 percent pit bulls - are dogfight rejects. They're the ones who do not at all respond to simple commands like sit or come. Who would ever adopt these beasts? It's a crime in more ways than one.

Maureen, thanks very much for the call.

MAUREEN: Thank you.

CONAN: All right, bye, bye. Let's go now to, this is Scott, Scott's calling us from Detroit.

SCOTT (Caller): Hi

CONAN: Hi.

SCOTT: Thanks for taking my call.

CONAN: Sure.

SCOTT: I'm a teacher and one of the big things that I've noticed as of late is the increase of student use with their videophones, and not only videotaping dogfights, but passing those dogfights amongst other videophones using SIM cards.

CONAN: Using SIM cards?

SCOTT: Correct.

CONAN: And so these are, you know, gee, look at this isn't this terrific or wonderful?

SCOTT: Oh no, absolutely horrific. Every time I come across it, the phone gets confiscated and I notify the authorities.

CONAN: No. But presumably, they're showing it to other kids because they think it's impressive.

SCOTT: Oh, they love it. And more often than not, a comment that I get is, you just don't understand them.

CONAN: Mm-hmm. I wonder, John Goodwin, do you see evidence of that as well, these sort of underground videos?

Mr. GOODWIN: We do. There's actually been a couple of cases where the prosecution came about because of these videophones.

CONAN: I was going to say, and couldn't they be used as evidence, yeah?

Mr. GOODWIN: Oh, they certainly can. And these people are seeing from these educated callers and these folks that know what they're talking about. They're calling now with these examples. So this is far more pervasive than people knew before the spotlight was shown on this issue from the Michael Vick indictments.

We need to have the appropriate laws in place. Now, 48 states do punish this as a felony and it is now a federal felony for any interstate transport of animals for animal fighting ventures. We need people in the communities to report to police when they see the signs of dogfighting and cockfighting or other forms of animal fighting, and tell - let law enforcement know this is a priority.

And we need to have prosecutors and judges that prosecute these cases and hand down good solid sentences that can deter this activity. In the case of the Michael Vick indictments, one of the allegations that was filed in court is that there was a dogfight where he lost $23,000 on a fight.

Well, if you're betting $23,000 on a dogfight, a little $1,000 fine is just going to be a slap on the rest of the cost of doing business. We need courts to send a message that the penalty is going to offset the gain. They can come from these crimes. These are - this can be, at the highest level, uniquely profitable gambling crimes. And so we have to have the proper prosecutions if we want to get serious about eradicating this cruelty.

CONAN: Scott, thanks very much for the call.

SCOTT: Thank you.

CONAN: We're talking with John Goodwin of the Humane Society and with Mike Duffey, who's a detective with the Pima County Sheriff's Department. You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

CONAN: And, Mike Duffey, we heard from John Goodwin and earlier from George Dohrmann of Sports Illustrated that they think dogfighting is booming. Is that the case? Do you believe in Arizona? And if so, how useful are - how effective are the laws that had been passed?

Mr. DUFFEY: Well, here in Arizona, we've got some very effective laws. And we got a whole group of prosecutors who are willing to take these cases to court, all we need is evidence to get that into the court process. If you'd look it on the Internet and you look at some of the publications that are out there, you'll see that a large number of dogs that are successful in the fight game -the game dogs - come from Southern Arizona. We know that just by watching the Internet and by reading their literature that they had published.

CONAN: And so, therefore, are those facilities the top of your priority list?

Mr. DUFFEY: We have the ability, through close cooperation with animal care and control here in Pima County, to sort of monitor what's going on at those properties that we know about.

CONAN: Mm-hmm. And, John Goodwin, let me ask you, there are people who will say wait a minute, you're talking about cultural differences. You're talking about people who were raised to this either in rural parts of this country or some urban parts of this country. You're talking about people who did this in -whose cultures, this is considered normal in Latin America where they came from. Is this feeling that you're attacking somebody's culture, is that part of your problem?

Mr. GOODWIN: What about our culture here in America? This is a country where about 70 million households have dogs. We love dogs. Dogs are part of our family. And I don't think we want to have dogfighting shove down our throats and forced into our communities by people that enjoy watching dogs bred for aggression, tear each other to pieces.

I've gone on these raids and seen these dogs after they've been fought. In March, in Ohio, we found a little female pit bull who would have the front half of her lower jaw completely broken off. This is what happens in these organized dogfights. This is what we're talking about. That's not cultural. Cultural is art, food, music. This is crime. This is cruelty. This is the worst aspects of humanity.

CONAN: And, Mike Duffey, my producer reminds me, we didn't quite an answer to part my question - is dogfighting on the rise in Arizona?

Mr. DUFFEY: We have evidence to indicate that it's an ongoing endeavor. We cannot prove a fight without getting somebody on the inside to tell us about it. All we can do is keep track of the victims that we come across that have been destroyed and abandoned in the desert than the ones that are turned into veterinarians and animal welfare agencies.

CONAN: Mike Duffey, thanks very much for your time. We appreciate it.

Mike Duffey is a detective with the Pima County Sheriff's Department in Arizona, co-chair of the Animal Cruelty Task Force. He joined us today from the studios of KUAT in Tucson. To hear more about dogfighting in America, you could tune in to MORNING EDITION tomorrow morning. We'd also like to thank for his time, John Goodwin, the deputy manager of the Animal Cruelty Campaign with the Humane Society of the United States, who was kind enough to join us today here in studio 3A. Thanks very much.

Mr. GOODWIN: Thank you.

CONAN: Coming up, the smart money is watching Wall Street today. It may close above $14,000 for the first time. Is it time to jump in or cash out? Call us with your questions for the Motley Fool - 800-989-8255. E-mail is talk@npr.org. David Gardner will take your money questions next.

I'm Neal Conan. It's the TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

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