“Roscoe is my daily inspiration,” says Laura Donahue, Virginia State Director, Humane Society of the United States. In 2010, Laura volunteered on the scene of a dogfighting raid in Ohio where two hundred Pit Bull dogs were seized.
Laura recalls in detail, “Roscoe was the twenty-fifth dog to be placed on the truck. He was terrified and I couldn’t leave his side.” At this life-changing moment, “I made a silent commitment.”
Having ventured from extreme cruelty to compassion and love, Laura says, “Roscoe completely regained trust in the world. He is a happy, loving, and balanced dog.” Now four-years old, half-blind, arthritic from being chained to an oil barrel in a cesspit, and diagnosed with melanoma, Laura’s commitment to Roscoe and victims like him is stronger than ever.
As State Director, Laura continues to raise the bar of dogfighting investigation education for related agencies and personnel in Virginia. Cosponsored by the Chesterfield County Police Department, the Humane Society University will hold its next Animal Cruelty and Fighting Investigations Training Workshop on Friday, October 12, 2012 at the Eanes-Pittman Public Safety Training Center in Chesterfield, Virginia. The one day seminar will be instructed by Janette Reever, Humane Society of the United States, Deputy Manager of Animal Fighting.
“I take Roscoe with me to training workshops. He is a great ambassador for the breed,” Laura states. “The graphic materials presented at the seminar can make it hard for us to reconcile that these victims are loving, forgiving, sentient beings.”
The dogfighting investigation earlier this month in urban Alexandria, Virginia, is a prime example of the breadth of dogfighting – it can happen anywhere; there is no denial or room for a ‘This can’t happen in my community’ mentality. In Virginia, a state with a long rap-sheet of animal fighting crimes, animal fighting investigative skill-sets and cooperation between local, state, and federal officials is imperative.
Although great strides have been made in improving animal fighting laws, without understanding and technique, law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, animal control officers, humane investigators, veterinarians, and the like will not be able to secure the solid convictions animal advocates and communities expect for senseless acts of violence toward animals.
“The ability to have this training in various regions of the state allows for greater attendance opportunities for Animal Control Officers all over Virginia,” says Rob Leinberger, Assistant Supervisor Chesterfield County Animal Control and Virginia Animal Control Association (VACA) Vice President. “The better trained the Animal Control Officer, the better that Animal Control Officer serves the community.”
“This training will have an overall positive effect on the perception of and dealings with pit bull dogs,” Rob says. “Even though pit bull breeds are the most common types of dogs used in dogfighting, it is against the law in Virginia for any animal fighting. That is a strong indicator of Virginia’s commitment to remain breed neutral. This allows Animal Control Officers to have an unbiased approach toward investigations when not hindered by having to decide what is or isn’t a Pit Bull.”
There is no cost for eligible, registered participants in the Animal Cruelty and Fighting Investigations Training Workshop in Chesterfield, Virginia. The registration deadline is Friday, September 28, 2012.