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We advocate on all animal protection and exploitation issues, including experimentation, factory farming, rodeos, breeders and traveling animal acts.

Animal Defenders of Westchester
P.O. Box 205
Yonkers, NY 10704

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Virginia Man Convicted of Selling Dog Fight Videos
by Anai Rhoads Ford

23 January 2005

www.AnaiRhoads.org - A Pittsville, Virginia man was convicted of animal abuse and cruelty on 13 January for distributing home-made videos of dogfights.

The arrest of 64 year-old Robert Stevens came as no surprise to those who knew him. Stevens ran a moderately lucrative business called Dogs of Velvet and Steel, which provided underground videos to dogfighting enthusiasts.

Several undercover officers posed as customers in order to respond to an advertisement Stevens placed in the Sporting Dog Journal. The Journal specifically caters to dogfights and the industry as a whole. Many dog owners, mostly pit bull owners, purchase material advertised in the Journal or place ads themselves.

Three of the videos sold by Stevens were reviewed by a jury in a Pittsburgh, PA court. One video showed a pit bull attacking and mutilating a pig, as the pig tried to flee. The pig eventually died as video went on filming.

A guilty verdict was handed down just 45 minutes after the jury watched the scenes. Despite his pleas, no one was swayed by his charge that the case violated his First Amendment rights of free speech.

Stevens also supplied customers with "training" materials, such as spring poles and break sticks. The training aides alone are considered cruel to animals.

There are many misconceptions that pit bulls reign the dog fighting industry. Any breed can be trained for the purpose of dog fighting, however, many owners choose the pit bull above other breeds for it's natural ability to fight. This does not mean the pit bull is violent - it is trained to be.

Many pit bulls can be found in homes with small children, without any incidents of aggressive behaviour. Yet, several States have banned the breed. This is mostly blamed on people who choose to train these dogs to fight. in the end, the animal suffers for it.

Dog fighting is illegal in all 50 states. Federal law also includes provisions against transporting dogs across state lines for the purpose of fighting.

The fight itself lasts anywhere from a few minutes up to two hours, but it does not end until one of the dogs gives up or dies. Owners will rarely seek medical treatment for their dog, for fear of getting caught. Most often the animal is killed by its owner after the fight if the injuries are too severe.

Stevens faces up to 15 years in prison for his crimes and a maximum fine of $750,000. A ban was put in place by District Judge Alan Bloch that will prevent Stevens from owning another pit bull, including the sale, breeding, training and products designed to train.

Stevens is the first person to be convicted under a federal law which bans the profit and sale of violent animal abuse images.

2005 Anai Rhoads Ford. Reproduction must be authorised in writing by author only. Altering, redistributing, or selling this material is strictly prohibited.


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