"The evidence is pretty overwhelming that there was dog fighting going on," - Sean McBryde, DCHS Spokesman
Since this is a new blog, no information regarding the Robert Lowery pit-bull fighting ring has been published here. We're going to cover this story, as it has lots to do with the challenge of No Kill when it comes to dogs and there seems to be an unwillingness to confront the issue of dog-fighting right here in Dane County.
There is really no better opportunity to pull this issue apart, figure out who is involved, and take active steps to educate and activate ourselves so that we don't see it pop up in some other form in the near future.
On June 14th, a DCI/Dane County Sherriff's Office raid of Lowery's home at 3554 Lake Farm Road "netted 15 pounds of marijuana, about 25 ounces of cocaine, five guns and $47,000 in cash," according to state Department of Justice spokesman Mike Bauer.
They also seiezed 52 dogs, including 52 pit-bulls during the raid. These have been turned over to the Dane County Humane Society and are being held as "evidence" (read: cannot be visited or adopted). According to a DCHS statement made to the WSJ, "they plan to ask the Dane County district attorney's office to charge Lowery with animal cruelty."
Read the article for the dirty details of drug-crime gone wacky.
Another interesting tidbit of info from the article is that Lowery was "a former Dane County Sheriff's Office deputy, and was convicted in 1983 on dog fighting and drug charges."
So this stuff isn't new to him. He was convicted of dog-fighting - not just accused.
The WSJ published an article the day before the drug-bust article talking about the break-up of a dog-fighting ring. This is where we get McBryde's quote regarding the overwhelming evidence of fighting.
Some may ask what the evidence was. The Humane Society staff found, "found dogs with torn ears, cuts and bruises, a dog with part of its leg bitten off, a dog with a broken leg that had healed improperly and a dog blinded by eye injuries." Doesn't sound like your average breeding operation, does it? DCHS officials go on to point out that the dogs are "traumatized and require special-attention" - stretching resources to the breaking point.
DCHS's McBryde goes on to describe his assessment of Lowery's dogs: "It's really heart-wrenching to see. It's terrible that a human would do this to animals. They didn't ask for this situation. They're good dogs. They've just been taught all the wrong things."
Sean, you are quickly becoming my hero. DCHS Veterinarian Sandra Newbury chimed in as well, saying that the "Humane Society is assessing all of the dogs for emergency medical needs and collecting evidence for possible animal-cruelty charges against the owner," (according to the article).
I'm not sure if DCHS intends to follow-through on these claims, but wouldn't it be cool!
A disussion broke out on Madison.com regarding this whole pit-bull fighting issue - learn how your neighbors feel about this here.
Lowery must stay in jail (June 16th - TCT) - highlights a reiteration of the fact that dogs were "apparently being trained to fight, some of which had serious wounds." The article also points out that Lowery had, "the dogs and apparatus around the farm to train them for dog fighting." And regarding his drup-past, the article points out that, "Lowery also is mentioned in DCI reports in the 1980s as being involved in trying to obtain the names of confidential informants in drug cases and with threatening to kill witnesses, although he was never charged with any crimes."
Details of Lowery's Madison/Mexico Drug-Ring (June 25th - MJS) - This article drops all the details about his drug case and how they were caught. It also points to Lowery's 1991 Federal coke conviction in Florida. This article is why Dr. Morris Link's quotes in the following article strike me as covering for a buddy. Lowery was implicated in trying to get informants killed (wow!).
Spring Harbor Animal Hospital feels heat, defends Lowery (July 1st - WSJ) - this is a whole seprate topic of discussion, but Dr. Morris Link discusses the case by adamantly defending his drug-dealing client - "I would almost bet my bottom dollar that he wasn't doing any fighting" - and - "I've never seen anything to indicate in any way anything to do with fighting dogs" - Link also says that "a number of dogs that looked like they had fought at some time, but they were healed," and had probably been bought by Lowery after they had been in fights. "It certainly wasn't proof he was fighting dogs," Link said.
Yet Dr. Newbury from DCHS is quoted in the search warrant as saying, "10 of the pit bulls taken from Lowery's farm had wounds or scars consistent with dog fighting."
There's also lots of tidbits in here about the equipment used to train them, etc. It also points out Lowery's more recent cocaine distribution conviction from 1990.
DCHS requesting funds for pit-bull expenses (July 3rd - TCT) - This is worth looking more at in a separate thread. DCHS claims the dogs will cost over $300k per year to care for, but are all "wards of the state" (evidence) and therefore unadoptable. There's plenty of good questions to ask here...
DCHS short on funds due to pit-bulls (July 5th - WSJ) - Cathy Holmes (President - Board of Directors - DCHS) says in the article that they will request reimburement from Dane County and that the county could then force Lowery to pay them back. I find this unlikely and more a diversion for the bad PR of having to use donated funds to do state-mandated work. Our new hero Sean McBryde ends with some more colorful and hopeful quotes:
"Everyone at the shelter agrees that we are doing the right thing in getting these dogs out of danger. If this is the beginning of a movement that helps eliminate dog fighting in the United States, we are very happy to be part of it. We just need to be able to pay for it."
Lowery petitions for return of dogs (July 21st - WSJ) - Unbelievably, Lowery actually wants to get his dogs back (concerns of his drug-case having been resolved???). Dr. Newbury's concerns are repeated, but Lowery disputes that his dogs have suffered "abuse".
Midwest Area Pit Stop pumps pit-rescue (July 25th - WSJ) - Article focuses on the good work being done, rather than the negative pitbull fighting issue. It mentions Lowery, but only to say that Noel Anderson (MAPS founder/director) worries that "every time an incident like that occurs, there is a spike in interest in pit bulls by unsavory people who want them for all the wrong reasons, such as fighting." I see another side to this - mainly an opportunity to get active and educate. The MAPS website needs help, too.
Be a Poocher Smoocher (July 25th - Dennis York - local blogger) - Covers basics of case and provides some helpful links.
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