On one of her daily stray cat feeding outings in her neighborhood two weeks ago, Phylisha Soleto of New Orleans East came upon a bloodied, severely injured pit bull who had been abandoned. The dog’s teeth had been manually removed, his jaw was broken, and he was covered from head to toe in bite marks. He was taken to Dr. Jessica Coates-Hudson who had to euthanize him due to the extent of his injuries which she attributed to dogfighting. Dr. Coates-Hudson has operated a full-service mobile vet clinic since 2009.
In response to this incident and an uprise in general dogfighting reports across the city, the Humane Society of Louisiana, which handles many of the New Orleans region’s animal cruelty investigations, gathered volunteers to canvas a known dogfighting hot spot, Hollygrove. “We didn’t know if the dog had been fought in the New Orleans East neighborhood where he was found or just dropped there, so we chose an area we knew has rampant dogfighting,” said Jeff Dorson, Director of the Humane Society of Louisiana.
In just a couple hours’ time, a dozen volunteers passed out almost 500 leaflets asking residents to call with any information about dogfighting, offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.
As a result of the event and the increase in dogfighting incidents that inspired it, the humane society has set up an Animal Fighting Task Force. Their goal in 2011 is to get different law enforcement agencies, business and religious leaders, and civic associations on board with the ultimate goal of sponsoring a workshop to offer training to NOPD officers to more effectively deal with animal cruelty and, in particular, dogfighting, as well as cockfighting in the more rural areas in which this is still a somewhat common occurrence. Louisiana was the last state to outlaw cockfighting in 2008, but dogfighting remains an entrenched part of the culture in both rural and urban areas.