Dog fightingThe crackdown on animal abuse continues with South Carolina hitting the public right in the face with 10 billboards that will feature an image of a dog with a scarred face and missing an eye and a hotline number for people to call; (888) CRIME-SC.

“The message is, if you see something, say something,” Attorney General Henry McMaster said.

Dogfighting can be associated with crimes including gang violence, drug trafficking, serial killings and child molestation, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said.

“If someone will abuse an animal,” Lott said, “they will abuse a human.”

Anyone providing information leading to an arrest and conviction in an animal-fighting case can receive a reward up to $5,000 from the Humane Society of the United States and distributed by CrimeStoppers.

McMaster established a statewide Dogfighting Task Force in 2004, which has made more than 50 arrests, authorities said. More than 300 dogs have been seized.

Dogfighting comes with some severe penalties.

In November 2004, David Tant of North Charleston, considered the nation’s No. 2 breeder of pit bull dogs, was sentenced to 40 years in prison for dogfighting activities. He pleaded guilty to 41 counts of dogfighting and one count of assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature.

In the highest-profile dogfighting case of late, former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick is serving a 23-month term in federal prison after pleading guilty last year to running a dogfighting ring. Some of those fights reportedly took place in South Carolina.

In February, Kenneth Gadson, accused of hanging a dog with an electrical cord to teach blood lust to stronger animals, was found hanged in an apparent suicide.

Richland County deputies had charged Gadson, his brother and a third man with maintaining a training operation for dogfighting.

Often people who fight dogs will steal domestic dogs to build blood taste and train the animals to be vicious, Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster said.

Lexington County Sheriff James Metts couldn’t imagine if anything happened to his 10-year-old miniature poodle, Buddy.

“It is sad that the problem has gotten to this extent,” Metts said, “but we need to do something.”

Lamar Advertising partnered with Crimestoppers to launch the program, which will continue for at least 30 days, said Scott Shockley, a general manager at the company. Adams Outdoor Advertising and Fairway Outdoor Advertising also have joined the program, he said.

Criminals cross jurisdictions, so a statewide hot line works, Orangeburg Department of Public Safety Chief Wendell Davis said. Animal abuse pulls at the heartstrings, he said.

“Just look at this animal and look into the animal’s eye. If you can’t have compassion for that, there’s something wrong.” (The State)

It’s heartening to see more and more states taking these crimes seriously. Now if only we could start seeing harsher sentences people would really get the idea that we are not going to stand for it!!

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