August 5, 2008

Georgians Try to Stop Dogfighting

By Crystal Owens

The Humane Society of the United States has blanketed Georgia in recent months with ads promoting a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of dogfighters.

The campaign is soliciting tips such as the one that led Madison County authorities to a suspected dogfighting ring in July, and most of the tips come from rural areas, said John Goodwin, the manager of animal fighting issues for the humane society.

"People in rural areas can't stand the sight of dogfighting and want to do something about it," Mr. Goodwin said.

The animal advocacy group has erected billboards promoting the rewards in Madison and Oglethorpe counties, and placed ads in local newspapers.

Compared to other states, Georgia's residents over the past year have proved aggressive in trying to stop dogfighting, said Humane Society spokeswoman Nayda Vera.

Georgia's group has dedicated more citizen resources than any other state to try to curb the bloodsport, Ms. Vera said, including establishing a 24-hour tip line run by Norred & Associates. The Atlanta-based corporate security investigative firm established the tip line for free after the arrest of NFL star Michael Vick, according the Humane Society.

"The sad reality is that dogfighting still is an underground activity," Ms. Vera said. "Before the Michael Vick case, all of the cruelty involved in this was not known by the general public."

The reward in Georgia also is bigger than the ones offered in other states because of a grant provided by the Atlanta-based Holland M. Ware Charitable Foundation.

The grant allowed the Humane Society to double the amount of the reward, Ms. Vera said.

In July, a concerned resident tipped the Humane Society - which in turn alerted Madison County authorities - and led to the first arrest under the state's stricter dogfighting law, which was signed by Gov. Sonny Perdue on May 16.

Originally published by Morris News Service.

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