Dogs alleged to be involved in dogfighting can be seized and held as evidence. In some cases, dogs have been kept for months or even years while court cases proceed. This can cause extraordinary expenses and hardship for local government, and for private and public animal shelters. And of course, it is incredibly cruel for the dogs that are impounded, many of which have never been used in dog fighting.
Over the course of the last 5 years, approximately 50 dogs (although numbers are almost impossible to verify with MADACC) have been impounded as victims of dogfighting cruelty in the City of Milwaukee. One of those dogs was "Sally" pictured above, and although we're not sure what her real name was, that was the name that David Mangold gave her when he first saw her picture. She became the "poster child" for David's years-long endeavour of advocating for her release and for improvement to the "system" for seized dogs.
David had previous experience with Court Case Dogs in Chicago with Safe Humane Chicago. He handled and walked the dogs and gained an appreciation for their forgiving nature and gentle spirit. Here is a quote that David Mangold made in an article in November 2011.
“These court case dogs [like Gamble] have a story to tell – and it’s one of forgiveness, about the mutual love canines have with their companions. It’s about the struggle for survival, but more than that, the basic canine desire to simply please its owner – to interact with a human, to live as a dog should – with mutual respect and loving companionship,” says David Mangold, a business analyst who lived in Chicago from 2008 through 2011.
When David moved to Milwaukee he took up the cause of the Milwaukee Court Case dogs, where Wisconsin laws do not offer the same protection to seized dogs as they do in Illinois. David contacted us at Wisconsin Voters for Companion Animals and we added the Court Case Dogs to our list of "issues" that we advocate for and follow.
David quickly realized that he needed to bring public attention to the matter and through social and mass media the plight of the Milwaukee Court Case dogs became well known. The public was surprised that dogs could be held in solitary confinement indefinitely. The years wore on but David never quit. He organized meetings (see his statement below) with high levels of municipal government and the City of Milwaukee police department. Senator Carpenter(D- Milwaukee) and Representative Spiros (R- Marshfield) both took up the cause in 2014, introducing bills that would protect future Court Case dogs. Unfortunately neither of those bills passed. Through his Facebook page, Save Milwaukee's Court Case Dogs, David kept the public updated with his progress, as well as the court cases of the alleged dog fighters. He rallied people to attend the court cases and encouraged them to write letters to the judge asking for strong sentencing when the dog fighters were convicted.
In 2015, Representative Spiros took up the cause again and authored AB487. Senator Petrowski (R-Marathon) authored a Companion Bill SB450. Although the bill's intent was good (to protect the court case dogs) a paragraph that was added by the Wisconsin Humane Society and MADACC that would reduce the mandatory stray hold for all lost pets from 7 days to 4 days made the bill a very contentious issue with the animal-loving public. People felt that 4 days was not enough time to find your lost pet in the shelter system. This provision gave Wisconsin shelters and stray-holding facilities the ability to adopt out, transfer or kill an animal on the 5th day. Wisconsin Humane Society, MADACC and Best Friends Animal Society asked their supporters to email their legislators to pass the bill WITHOUT amendments.
The bills passed both Committee hearings and went to the floor on February 16, 2016. An 11th hour amendment was introduced by six Representatives; Spreitzer, Genrich, Hebel, C.Taylor, Wachs and Jorgenson; that would prohibit shelters from putting an animal down until the 7th day unless it was humanely necessary. Some tweaking on the wording resulted in the final amendment saying that an animal could be put down before the 7th day if it was for humane reasons or considered a threat to staff, volunteers or public safety.
Wisconsin Humane Society and MADACC took credit for this amendment in their press release although they had really wanted the bill to pass unamended with full legal ability to kill an animal they deemed "unadoptable" on the 5th day. If they had truly wanted the amendment they would have proposed it months earlier.
The bill will now go to the Governor's office for signature.
We asked David for a statement to close out this article as the saga of "Milwaukee's Forgotten Dogs" comes to an end.
"What further proof do you need that WHS and MADACC, who worked behind closed doors, without input from the community, is interested in only advancing their agenda? Let’s examine how they treated me – the only one to take action in 2011 when six dogs were seized in the Wortham case, the only one saying that we needed a better outcome for these court case dogs. Despite my having built coalitions within city government including DA’s, Sherriff’s department, MPD, and concerned citizens, MADACC had curiously ‘missed’ our most important meeting of all. The Director cites a ‘more productive environment’ to work through than the grouping of people I assembled, from Inspector Yerkes and other high ranking MPD representatives, Inspector Bailey from the Sherriff’s office, various DA’s and other important city officials. I would love to find out what was more productive for the court case dogs than this meeting?
WHS and MADACC then held insider meetings about the court case dogs, and refused to let me at the table for no reason I can discern. Then MADACC gladly accepted an award for managing the court case dogs – despite killing well over half of them (in fact sources tell me 36 were killed and 14 were rescued). When the bill passed the Senate, there was only gloating and high fives all around – not one word about the only one who really made this happen. I’m glad the bill passed for the court case dogs and only the court case dogs. I’m not happy that Big Money Humane and Big Animal Control in Milwaukee is so pleased; it makes me downright worried." - David Mangold
Our closing statment:
The world needs more David Mangolds. Citizens who are not afraid to stand up for what is right and to get involved to make change happen. Wisconsin Humane Society saw a parade and got in front, eager to take the credit for something that never would have happened without David Mangold.
Sally was not the only dog to die at the hands of an impossible system. Sally, we will never forget you - and the rest of the nameless dogs we never got to know. The passing of this bill means no other innocent victims of dogfighting will ever have to be thrown into an impossible situation, and not given their first real chance. You did not die in vain.