http://www.madison.com/tct/news/stories ... ntid=87793
Shelter at max with fight dogs
By Steven Elbow
A former Dane County sheriff's deputy was arrested Wednesday after state agents executing a drug search warrant found 52 fighting dogs, some of them mangled from apparent dog fighting.
Robert Lowery, 57, was being held by Justice Department officials today on a federal charge of conspiracy to distribute marijuana.
His wife, Julie Ann Dzikowich, 48, who shares Lowery's address at 3554 Lake Farm Road in the town of Dunn, was in the Dane County Jail today on charges of possession of a firearm by a felon and possession with intent to deliver between 40 and 100 grams of cocaine.
The seizure of the dogs has put the squeeze on the Dane County Humane Society, where the dogs - some scarred and injured, and one with a leg partially amputated - are being held.
This pit bull is one of 52 apparent fighting dogs being held today in isolation at the Humane Society.
"We're at maximum capacity right now," said Gail Viney, public relations coordinator for the shelter.
Viney said the influx of dogs, which are being isolated because of their propensity to attack each other, have prompted the facility to waive fees for adoptable dogs for a week, starting today. Fees normally run $110 for adult dogs and $150 for puppies.
"We're putting out a desperate plea to the public to come in and adopt one of these animals," she said.
The pit bulls, however, have to be fed and cared for at the shelter, which is funded through the county and state, until the court case proceeds. Viney said she had no idea how long that might be.
"Legally, we have to hold these dogs," she said.
Humane Society spokesman Sean McBryde said the plea to the public brought several prospective pet owners to the facility today, but they had to be turned away until its noon opening time.
But he called the public interest "exciting."
"All of these other dogs are taking up literally all of our resources - and of course we got four strays in last night," he said.
The Humane Society is also dealing with the house dog, a black Labrador, from Lowery's property, as well as 26 chickens, two goldfish, a macaw, two parakeets, and "a very traumatized cat."
Veterinarian Sandra Newbury said some of the dogs appear healthy, but others show signs of serious trauma, ranging from puncture wounds to scars, eye injuries and "major orthopedic injuries."
She said the dogs are prone to react to other dogs and are being kept away from other pets.
"They are all very reactive to the presence of other dogs," she said.
While some are comfortable around people, others are nervous.
"These are not typical house pets," she said. "They don't behave like house pets."
Lowery has a long history of breeding pit bulls for fighter dogs. According to a 1995 article in the Isthmus weekly newspaper, in 1982, after he was fired from the Dane County Sheriff's Office, he and his roommate were arrested at 3424 Lake Farm Road for animal fighting. Deputies confiscated 30 pit bulls, a dog fighting ring and a treadmill, used to train fighting dogs.
Charged with six counts of animal fighting, Lowery pleaded no contest to two counts, and was placed on probation for two years.
The newspaper reported that Lowery shipped at least 32 dogs across state lines in 1995, and his wife shipped about 25 dogs in 1994, while Lowery served a prison sentence for conspiracy to distribute cocaine.
Some of those dogs went to known dog fighters. He has in the past advertised in such underground dog fighting publications as Sporting Dog Journal under the company name Windy City Combine, boasting dogs with championship lineage.
Animal control officer Cheri Carr said Lowery has long been under suspicion, but officers have not been able to gather enough information for a search warrant, and Lowery never allowed officers onto his property.
"We knew what was going on out there," she said. "We just couldn't prove it."
The state's investigation, she said, allowed them to get inside and seize the animals.
"The rumor is it was a fairly professional level of animal fighting," she said, but wouldn't provide further details because of the ongoing investigation.
Published: June 15, 2006