Raids hit dogfighting rings in Oklahoma, other states

SONYA COLBERG Modified: July 9, 2009 at 5:24 pm •  Published: July 9, 2009
Dogfighting raids in five states Tuesday led to about 30 arrests and the seizure of about 350 dogs, including Oklahoma dogs, according to the Humane Society of the United States.

It’s believed to be the nation’s largest simultaneous raid of multiple dogfighting operations.

Officers from numerous federal and state law enforcement agencies raided suspected dogfighting operations in Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, Illinois and Iowa.

One arrest was made in Oklahoma. Jerry Matlock, 57, of Stilwell was arrested near Welling in rural Cherokee County, said U.S. Attorney Sheldon Sperling of the Eastern District of Oklahoma.

Matlock was charged with three felony counts, each punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of no more than $250,000.

"In dark corners of modern America, brutal savagery lingers in despicable form,” Sperling said. "Dogs are encouraged to rip each other to shreds. The canine combatant gladiators suffer, sometimes horribly. Losing dogs are sometimes executed when they are too disabled to be of further value.”

He said watching and betting on dogfights is like a scaled-down Roman Coliseum and should be considered abhorrent today.

Raising awareness
Sperling said count one against Matlock alleges a conspiracy to travel to participate in a criminal dogfighting enterprise, to sponsor an interstate animal fighting venture, and to buy, transport, deliver or receive a dog for purposes of participation in an animal fighting venture. Two other counts allege actual sponsorship or participation in interstate animal fighting and transporting an animal for interstate animal fighting.