Glendale, California — It’ll take a bit more than keeping convicted felon and pro football player Michael Vick on a metaphoric short leash to send a blaring message to dogfighting criminals in America. In order to sniff out and take down those violent underground rings, some animal welfare activists say the government’s bite needs to be greater than its bark.
“Dog fighting is treated by law enforcement strictly as a humane code violation,” said Hollywood actor Leo Grillo, founder of D.E.L.T.A. Rescue, the largest dog and cat sanctuary of its type in the world. “But it is also a series of serious and violent crimes.”
Grillo has been a conservator and guardian angel for abandoned, abused and un-wanted animals since 1979. He and his staff currently tend to more than 1,500 dogs and cats on a daily basis. His canines are rescued typically from the wilderness rather than from a death ring where dogs, usually pit bulls [like the one pictured above], are trained to bite and rip the flesh off one another while onlookers cheer, scream and place bets.
“Participants are much more dangerous than animal control officers are trained to handle,” Grillo said. “And often this is not the participants’ only crime.”
It was an insidious, unethical and inhumane crime that briefly derailed Vick’s life and career after his chief involvement in a gruesome dogfighting ring. Vick has been given a second, conditional go-round in life with the Philadelphia Eagles; he is also working closely with the Humane Society of the United States to increase public awareness. Grillo acknowledges Vick’s remorsefulness and his newfound association with anti-dogfighting programs. Now Grillo wants the matter to take a more potent step.
“It requires diligent police investigation, and subsequent arrest and prosecution of the criminal element involved,” said Grillo. “Due to the organized nature of many dog fighting venues, state and federal agencies must also be available to assist local police.” Dogfighting is illegal in all North American countries.
D.E.L.T.A. Rescue is located northeast of Los Angeles, California. Many celebrities support its efforts, including actors Robert Davi, Alec Baldwin, Rue McClananhan and Grand L. Bush. Animal rights activist and politician Maneka Gandhi also promotes its humane efforts.
To offer your support, call (661) 269-4010. Also visit www.deltarescue.org.