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Buffalo man charged in suspected dog fighting ring

Michael Mroziak, WBFO

A Buffalo man faces eight counts in relation to a suspected dog fighting operation in the city's East Side, the Erie County District Attorney's Office and SPCA Serving Erie County announced Thursday.

Joshua Mack appeared before Buffalo City Court Judge Kevin Keane and pleaded not guilty to eight counts, four felonies and four misdemeanors. He was ordered not to possess nor harbor any animals during his case.

Erie County District Attorney John Flynn says the SPCA received a tip upon which they obtained a search warrant, executed in March at a Roma Avenue address. In all, seven dogs and a puppy were recovered from the scene.

"There were three dogs that we were able to identify as being specifically being part of this dogfighting ring," said Erie County District Attorney John Flynn, who said that "paraphernalia" related to dog fighting was also recovered from the address. 

While he wouldn't identify the specific items recovered in this case, Flynn says dog fighting paraphernalia include scales, treadmills, chains and other equipment used to shelter and train the animals.

Investigating dog fighting cases is difficult, Flynn said, because of the clandestine nature of the activity.

"A lot of times, only the referee of the dogfighting knows the location of the dog fight," he explained. "The participants will meet at an off-site location that the referee has designated and then the referee will then take them to the place to have the dog fights."

The dogs recovered in March were treated by the SPCA and are now being kept in an undisclosed area, according to spokesperson Gina Browning. She explained that in the past, the belief was once a dog had been trained to fight, they were unable to rehabilitate and would be euthanized. That school of thought later changed, beginning with the notorious case involving former professional football player Michael Vick, who was charged in a that school of thought changed.

"There was a doctor who worked on that case who was actually from Buffalo, who was with the ASCPA in New York at the time, and he classified the dogs at three levels and some of the dogs were actually rehabbed," Browning said, referring to Dr. Stephen Zawistowski, who was an adjunct professor of anthrozoology at Canisius College from 2011 to 2015. 

Browning would not comment, though, on whether the dogs recovered in this case have a chance to be rehabilitated and adopted.

"It's still part of our investigation," she said. 

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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