Sen. Byrd Calls Dog Fights ‘Barbaric’

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 26, 2005

WASHINGTON – Allegations of a vicious dogfighting ring prompted an unusually emotional speech in the Capitol Thursday, as the Senate’s longest-serving member fought tears and called for God’s judgment on those who promote such activities.

“Barbaric,” Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., shouted four times in a Senate chamber that was mostly empty except for two dozen somewhat startled tourists.

“Let that word resound from hill to hill and from mountain to mountain, from valley to valley across this broad land,” he thundered, raising his right hand. “May God help those poor souls who would be so cruel. Barbaric! Hear me!”

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Federal agents have charged Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick and three others with procuring and training pit bulls for fighting in Virginia and elsewhere. Investigators say some losing dogs died in the pit or were later electrocuted, drowned, hanged or shot.

Byrd, 89, said he would not prejudge the men’s guilt or innocence, but he left no doubts about his sentiments.

“I am confident that the hottest places in hell are reserved for the souls of sick and brutal people who hold God’s creatures in such brutal and cruel contempt,” he said.

“One is left wondering,” he said. “Who are the real animals: the creatures inside or outside the ring?”

When he finished, Massachusetts Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, who sometimes brings his Portuguese water dogs to work, said, “Great speech, Bob.” As Byrd left the chamber, a Senate page and TV reporter shook his hand and thanked him, and a young woman had her photo taken with him.

A service of the Associated Press(AP)