Court cases reveal Philly's weak history of punishing dogfighters.
“No, your honor,” said Murarka. “That’s the back of his leg.”
The Judge thanked everybody, and ordered Clark to rise.
“Sir, you couldn’t have asked for a better judge than me,” he told Clark, explaining how his duties as a part-time basketball coach sometimes brought him to countries where they greeted him at the airport with cock fights. “I don’t have the emotional connection or particular itch with the animal thing that some judges do.”
Loller readied herself for further disappointment.
“But this is Philadelphia, and though I’m not singling you out, the photographs of those dogs speak for themselves, and what you did was illegal and you were making money off it.”
Judge Gordon sentenced Anthony Clark to three to six years for the drugs and then tacked on an extra one to two years for the dogs.
Loller exhaled and Paul collected her things and thanked her witnesses.
Clark shook his head. “Nah, this ain’t right,” he said.
His lawyer patted him on the back and instructed him of his rights to appeal.
Bengal of the PSPCA said he was “shocked and satisfied” by Clark’s sentence.
“It doesn’t happen all that often in Philadelphia,” he said.
But whether the Clark verdict was a temporary result of the Vick fallout, or the beginning of a trend of harsher sentences for dogfighters will be determined in upcoming months. There are four more dogfighting cases winding through Philadelphia courts, among them a police narcotics investigation, which led to the discovery of a dogfighting pit in the basement of John Taliaferro’s Kensington home. He’d been burying his dead dogs in his front yard.
“We were digging all day in the pouring rain,” said Loller.
“He’s a major player,” added Bengal. “It was a big arrest for us.”
By signing Vick, the Eagles supposedly reaffirmed the notion of second chances in life. But to get a second chance, you first have to pay a price for your mistakes. In Philadelphia, when it comes to dogfighting, no one’s been paying. Maybe the mere presence of Michael Vick, our new football player and potential role model, can provoke our city’s court system to inflict the kind of sentences that might make dogfighters stop and think about the punishment they’ll face for causing so much pain. ■
The only way Vick can begin to make up for his heinous crimes is by dedicating a generous portion of his salary to animal welfare organizations here. After that, shut up and go win us a Super Bowl.
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PSPCA plans to pack the dogs into crates and stack them in "temporary emergency housing in the garages at the Erie Ave. facility," according to an email sent from PSPCA to their network of volunteers and rescues.
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