Animal cruelty calls on the rise; city beefs up staff

By Rachel DePompa - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Calls to Richmond Animal Control are on the rise. In the wake of the Michael Vick case, Richmond's director of Animal Care and Control says more people are paying attention and reporting animal cruelty cases.

Jody Jones says her office is busier now than just five years ago. Of its, on average, 15,000 calls a year, more than 1/3 are animal cruelty reports.

"People are asking us to come out and investigate these types of crimes. And help them fix the crimes that are taking place in their neighborhoods," said Jones.

She adds that it's not that dog fighting is on the rise - it's that more people are aware of what to look for.

"The increase in calls has led to some wonderful prosecutions here in Richmond," said Jones.

This year, the agency brought down a dog fighting operation on the city's south side.

12 pitt bulls were taken from a backyard. 11 so badly injured they were put down. Richard Robinson and his mother Ardeller Morris were both convicted by Richmond juries for the dog fighting operation. Jurors even sent a message, handing Robinson the largest dog fighting sentence in Virginia history: 10 years behind bars.

Richmond Animal Care and Control also beefed up its staff this year. Mark Wachner was the top expert on dog fighting cases in Michigan. He brings to Richmond more than 20 years experience.

"You're not going to get away with this activity. We're learning how to deal with it. We're learning how to prosecute it. We're learning how to investigate it," said Wachner.

If you've seen dog fighting in greater Richmond, call 1-877-847-4787. The Human Society of the United States offers a $5,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest and conviction.

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