Posted on Fri, Jan. 27, 2006
Five arrested in dog-pig fighting
The men have been charged with staging fights between dogs and pigs at a Seminole reservation.
BY ROBERTO SANTIAGOrsantiago@MiamiHerald.com
Most people have heard of cockfighting, dog fighting and bullfighting.
And, now, still another entry into the illegal world of blood sports apparently has come to south-central Florida: hog-dog fighting.
It's pit bulls or bulldogs versus wild boars.
And when it's a teethversus-tusk bloodbath, seldom do the pigs ever defeat the dogs.
But that didn't stop several enterprising men from hosting an afternoon of dog versus pig wars at a Seminole Indian reservation near Okeechobee.
It took 14 months, but on Thursday, the long arm of the law finally caught up with them, sending five to the hoosegow -- all leaders of a national hog-dog fighting group.
''It's a little known blood sport that's been around for 25 years, mostly practiced in South Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Texas and Florida,'' according to John Goodwin, deputy manager, animal fighting issues, for The Humane Society of the United States.
One of the key arrests was that of Art Parker of Fort Lawn, S.C., president of the International Catchdog Association, which boasts its own website, dixiewardogs.com.
''Law enforcement authorities have been after him for a long time,'' said Goodwin, who hopes his arrest will put an end to the organization.
Other men arrested were Don Matthews of Fort Pierce; Jorge and Ariel Diaz of Homestead; and Rick Kresley, of Alburtis, Pa.
Arrest warrants in connection with the event were executed in South Carolina and Pennsylvania through the Glades County State Attorney's Office, Seminole police said.
The hog-dog fight took place Oct. 9, 2004, in the backyard of a home owned by a Seminole Indian at the reservation, authorities said.
Hog-dog fights typically match a pit bull terrier or bulldog against a wild boar in a rectangular, 25- by 25-foot outdoor ring, bound by wooden posts, for 60-second bouts.
The object is to see how fast the dog can catch the pig as it runs for its life. The dog usually snares the pig within seconds.
The dog stops the pig by clamping its jaws against its snout, ears or testicles. The animals then are pried apart with a metal bar. If the pig survives, it's returned to the ring for another fight. If the pig collapses, it's left to die.
The three dogs with the best times are declared the winners, with their owners -- in this case -- splitting a cash pool of about $10,000.
Hog-dog fighting is a violation of animal cruelty laws and is illegal in the United States.
In Florida, it is a third-degree felony punishable by five years in jail and a $5,000 fine. Being a spectator of the illegal sport is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine.
''We received a tip back then that a hog-dog fight was going to take place,'' said Seminole Police Department Detective Steve Lopez, whose department contacted authorities from the Department of Agriculture.
Undercover agents videotaped the fights, the participants and the spectators. Twenty-one dogs, their owners and at least 14 wild boars participated, Lopez said.
''The dogs are trained by their owners to fight and attack,'' explained Goodwin, ``and the wild boars are caught in states such as Florida and South Carolina.''
Lopez said it took more than a year to identify the five participants who were arrested. Lopez said at least three more arrests are pending, including one more in Florida.