A conflicted mind: I have a confession: I don't normally read the Riverfront Times. However, the cover story for the dogfighting investigation, and to as great a degree the cover art, caught my eye ["Dog Beat Dog," Keegan Hamilton]. This story was very close to a very soft spot in my heart. My wife is a dog trainer, and for the last ten years she also actively works with dog rescue operations.
She is hands-on, very much so. Our house has always been a temporary home for one or two fosters. Starting in Maryland, a mere 30 miles outside Washington, D.C., we started seeing a growing number of pit bulls being dumped, abandoned and otherwise left for dead. It is not so different now in Jefferson County.
I can attest to the positive attributes of the dog breed: loyal, loving and affectionate. We currently have a small pit staying with us that I would call my own if I got to make the rules about such things.
About your story. I was really, really impressed. Conflicted, but impressed. The idea of using dogs to fight in order to infiltrate and break up a fighting ring is very tough to warm up to. It is, though on a lesser scale, like sending a son off to war. You know that a greater good requires significant sacrifice, but that sacrifice bleeds real blood.
And this is what I liked about your story: It was as objective and candid a piece as I have ever read on this subject. Even your statements about how some of the owners did not at all see the harm in fighting dogs rings true. Uncomfortable, but true.
I congratulate you on a magnificent piece of journalism. The detail, the objectivity and the uncomfortable balancing of cultural perspectives awakened some synapses, caused discomfort and made me think. I'm still thinking, and I assume many others are as well.
Reading your story was a little like watching Whale Wars on Animal Planet. I'm not sure if I am on either side completely. Is breaking the law to end violence and promote justice somehow justified? If so, to what level? As I said, I remain conflicted, and that's a good thing. A conflicted mind is an open mind.
Thank you again for a spectacular piece of journalism. Tell your bosses that because of this one story, you have just increased regular readership. They'll probably give you a raise.
Dennis C. Bentley, Hillsboro, via the Internet
Thanks and praise: Pit bulls are my life. I live and breathe the breed. I am here on this earth to fight for them. This case is amazing. I don't think that anyone can even imagine what selflessness was put into this investigation. I am a former resident of Cape Girardeau and am proud to know that that is where Mr. Mills is from as well. Thank you so much, Mr. Mills, Mr. Heath, the Humane Society of Missouri, the ASPCA, Missouri State Highway Patrol and everyone else who took one of the largest steps in history to put a dent in this sick industry. This industry, just like any other industry of crime, probably will never end, but we have to keep chipping away at it and being relentless. We need to keep the message going that this isn't OK and it never will be.
Lauren Lyons, via the Internet
DAILY RFT, AUGUST 27, 2010
The experiment may be doomed: It is sad that you feel compelled to make snide and inaccurate remarks ["Pujols, La Russa to Attend Glenn Beck's 'Restoring Honor' Rally," Chad Garrison]. Your cynical attitude is shameful. The founders of this country made it abundantly clear that without a moral and religious God-respecting population, the American republic experiment could not succeed. Your cynicism cannot offer anything of value.
Ron, via the Internet
In Keegan Hamilton's September 2 feature story about dogfighting, "Dog Beat Dog," we erroneously stated that Judge Michael Reagan is a judge in Southern Illinois circuit court. In fact, he's a U.S. district court judge.