Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

April 3, 2013

Authorities: Kansas dogfighting ring extends into East Texas

Ben Tinsley
Jacksonville Daily Progress

CHEROKEE COUNTY — A Kansas-based dog fighting ring that reached as far as this area of East Texas recently was neutered by federal authorities.

This brutal operation involved more than 60 dogs — mostly victimized pit bulls —  and spanned three states, including Texas, Kansas and Missouri, authorities said.

Law enforcement officials announced that two Kansas City men  — Pete Davis, Jr., 38, and Melvin Robinson, 41,  — recently were arrested in connection with the case.

Both were taken into custody on suspicion of  buying, selling, delivering or transporting animals for participation in an animal fighting venture. If convicted, they both face a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000.

In a recent news conference, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said authorities are taking a dim view of such activities.

“Dog fighting is not a sport — it is a crime,” Grissom said. “Federal law prohibits cruelty to animals on the level of the events that are alleged in these charges.”

Although one of the “dog fights” is alleged to have taken place in the Tyler-Jacksonville area, its exact location was unclear Tuesday. A member of the Jacksonville Police Department could not immediately be reached to comment.

The law now ensures severe consequences for lawbreakers in these types of cases, the U.S. Attorney said.

“In 2008, after the Michael Vick case, Congress increased the punishment for dog fighting,” Grissom explained. “What was a misdemeanor is now a felony with punishment up to five years.”

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is providing the veterinary care and shelter for the dogs involved in the case, reports show.

This case is the result of an extensive FBI investigation that began in November 2012, authorities said.

According to court documents:

• Robinson kept a treadmill at his residence in Kansas City to train dogs to fight — routinely placing a harness on a dog and chaining that harness to the treadmill for several hours at a time.

The treadmill was equipped with a plywood box designed to keep the dog on the treadmill. Robinson also put weights on the dog to strengthen it and provided caged live chickens in front of the treadmill as bait.

• Robinson and Davis discussed betting $20,000 to $30,000 on a dog they were training for the “dog show” scheduled to take place in the Dallas area March 23.

• On March 17, Davis and Robinson held three dog fights involving six dogs at the farm in Missouri in preparation for an upcoming dog fight in Dallas.

• At various times during the investigation, dogs are alleged to have died at the farm in Missouri and their bodies discarded.

• On March 22,  investigators followed Robinson and Davis as they traveled to a location for a dog fight near the Tyler-Jacksonville area.

The case was worked by numerous East Texas agencies, including the Texas Parks And Wildlife Department. It also was handled by several other law enforcement entities, including the FBI and Kansas and Missouri authorities.