Allowed pit bull mix to chase wildlife “every day”
LAS CRUCES, New Mexico––“Gus provided the best action at the end of the day. Got his first big game kill!!” boasted Michael Garcia, 36, of his pit bull mix on July 19, 2019.
Gus attacked, violently shook, and eventually killed a spotted fawn. The fawn audibly whimpered for her mother, shown in the video standing helplessly by.
Garcia also posted images of himself skinning the fawn and displaying her hide and bones, apparently still in front of the mother doe.
Video got 45 “likes” from fellow hunters, fishers
Garcia, 36, a resident of Las Cruces, New Mexico, who was at the time a guide for Conejos River Anglers, often posted photos and video of his kills and those of clients, and was used to hearing praise of his exploits, including as a trophy bowhunter.
The Garcia video of Gus the pit bull mix killing the fawn was “Liked by whipfinishers and 45 others,” according to Instagram.
But Clint Lockhart, of Littleton, Colorado, who told media that he grew up hunting and fishing, took a different view of the matter,
“A fawn being big game — that’s not big game. That’s pathetic,” Lockhart told Kirsten Haubrich of Fox News affiliate KDVR. “The worst thing about it is that he bragged about it.”
“Beyond unethical & disgusting”
Lockhart shared the video, urging viewers to join him in demanding disciplinary action from both Conejos River Anglers and Colorado Parks & Wildlife.
“Conejos River Anglers have let Michael Garcia go,” updated Lockhart on July 21, 2019. “Still doesn’t sit 100% with me as the wife/owner had backed him at first. My guess is all the negative attention was the deciding factor here.
“I normally would not call out a business in this manner,” Lockhart added, “but I am absolutely F-ing furious. Conejos River Anglers is defending one of their guides who is beyond unethical and disgusting. Michael Garcia is the ‘gentleman’ who allowed his dog to kill a fawn right in front of her mother. He has stated there was nothing he could do, yet as the fawn was screaming for her life, he recorded the entire process. Hence the reason I am so livid. The video was beyond gross. The video has since been deleted but screen shots were taken. I can understand an accident, but the fact that he recorded it, took pictures, and then bragged about it being [Gus the pit bull mix’s] first big game kill makes my blood boil!!
Conejos River Anglers defended Garcia
“To put some salt on the wound.,” Lockhart finished, “the [Conejos River Anglers] owner straight up defended this guy on social media. I’ll be skipping this fly shop for the rest of my life. And if you are friends with Michael or the shop owners, sorry not sorry!!!”
Respondents soon flooded the Conejos River Anglers social media accounts and Garcia’s own accounts with protest messages, most of them immediately deleted. The high volume of traffic eventually shut down the Conejos River Anglers pages on Facebook and Instagram entirely.
Colorado Parks & Wildlife on July 23, 2019 charged Garcia with three misdemeanors: allowing his dog to harass wildlife, illegally taking wildlife, and illegal possession of wildlife.
Hunting/fishing license may be suspended for five years
“The punishment for the charges includes a $1,372 fine and 20 license suspension points,” explained Angela Fritz and Michael Brice-Saddler of The Washington Post. “Garcia may elect to pay the fines or appear in court on September 16, 2019 — but either way, he’ll also be required to meet with a Colorado Parks & Wildlife suspension hearing officer, which could mean his license will be suspended for up to five years.”
Garcia meanwhile demonstrated the extent to which he failed to understand any of the furor in a self-pitying purported apology which tried to downplay the multiple offenses and was belied both by his own video and his own statements in the “apology” itself.
“It would suck to lose everything”
“I would like to apologize for the offensive video, and pictures I posted a couple days ago,” Garcia began. “I truly am a lover of the outdoors and in no way would have thought it would get this out of hand! I’m sorry for everything! I’ve worked very hard my entire life, to figure all this out, and it would suck to lose everything, because of a poor decision on my part!”
Garcia did not specify what exactly he had “worked very hard” his “entire life” to figure out, but he had apparently figured out belatedly that his actions would have consequences.
Jesus didn’t set dogs on wildlife
“People make mistakes,” Garcia continued, “and I’d appreciate the spotlight back on the positive side of hunting and fishing, instead of personally crucifying me, and everyone close to me.”
The distinction between a fine of $1,372 and a possible five-year license suspension and being “crucified” should be self-evident to anyone familiar with the story of Jesus.
“Gus is an awesome, kind, loving dog. I let him chase rabbits and squirrels every day,” Garcia rattled on, apparently oblivious to the realities that kind, loving dogs do not dismember other animals alive for amusement, that allowing dogs to chase and harass wildlife is inherently sadistic, and that it is also illegal, which is why he was criminally charged for doing it.
“Fighting off the mother doe”
Also illegal is even having a dog off-leash in many of the areas in which Garcia photographed Gus off-leash in recent months, posting the photos to Facebook––as Colorado Parks & Wildlife regional wildlife manager Rick Basagoitia pointed out to media.
“I promise you,” Garcia said, “this is the one and only time [Gus] ever caught a fawn. Conejos River Anglers has nothing to do with all this, I wasn’t working at the time, and I wasn’t even in Colorado at the time of the incident, please leave them alone!!
“In the video,” Garcia contended, “I was trying to get the fawn away from Gus, while fighting off the mother doe.”
There is no indication in the video of any struggle with the mother doe, who is shown standing perhaps 50 yards away.
“It was a freak accident, not premeditated,” Garcia insisted, but an “accident” caused by allowing a pit bull or pit mix to roam at large in a wildlife area under other circumstances would be decried by pit bull enthusiasts as “setting the dog up to fail.”
“I have since contacted the proper authorities,” Garcia finished, “and am meeting up with a game warden tomorrow, to get this all taken care of. I’m sorry, I messed up, hopefully the social media world will have some understanding. Stay focused, stay hydrated, and hunt hard, see you out there!”
Clearly Garcia continues to see nothing wrong with torturing and killing animals for personal amusement.
Allowed pit bull mix to lick caught-for-release fish
Garcia in earlier Facebook postings frequently depicted himself practicing catch-and-release fishing––and sometimes allowing Gus the pit bull mix to lick the fish, which would further stress the already stressed fish and reduce their chances of survival.
Oklahoma and Montana studies show that from 20% to 43% of caught-and-released fish die within six days of being hooked.
But that is scarcely all that is ethically questionable about catch-and-release, which has already been banned as pointlessly cruel in both Switzerland and Germany.
Steve Hindi on catch-&-release
Explained Showing Animals Respect & Kindness founder Steve Hindi in a May 1996 essay entitled“I was a fish killer,” describing his metamorphosis in 1990-1991 from noted trophy fisher to near full-time animal advocate and cruelty investigator:
“As time went on, we increasingly often addressed matters of ethics and conservation, at least superficially. Spokespeople for fishing began talking of catch-and- release. This, they assured, would secure both the future of our victims, and the tradition of humans harassing and killing them. In catch-and-release, we would hook our prey, allow them to suffer as they fought for their lives, and then release them, hoping they would survive to endure this torture again.
“What we never bothered to admit was that any supposed quest for food, our supposed primary objective as hunters, played no part in our new ethic. Yet we could not admit that the vast majority of us were pulling hooks into the mouths, eyes, tongues, throats and internal organs of animals simply because we loved the feeling of their struggle against our cruelty.”
Gus “was acting in his true nature”
Garcia was, and is, scarcely alone in combining his enthusiasm for hunting and fishing with an enthusiasm for pit bulls and pit bull mixes, and their tendency to also kill other animals for amusement. Using pit bulls to hunt pigs, in particular, is common throughout the rural South and in Hawaii.
But an unusual aspect of the Garcia case is the extent to which the public responded with outrage to what in truth is routine pit bull behavior––as the Conejos River Anglers “face of the social media savvy” acknowledged in stating on Instagram that Gus “was acting in his true nature.”
As ANIMALS 24-7 detailed in January 2019, 50,850 dogs of all breeds combined appear to have participated in killing or injuring 47,500 other domestic animals in 2018, including horses, livestock, and poultry as well as dogs and cats.
Among the dogs who killed other animals were an estimated 48,975 pit bulls (96%).
The pit bulls also killed 37,362 other animals, “only” 79% of the total because dogs of other breeds accounted for just over a third of the deaths of horses, livestock, and poultry.
Pit bulls killed 14,850 dogs (86% of the victims), injured another 16,800 dogs (93% of the victims), and killed 8,850 cats (88% of the victims).
These numbers were consistent with the six-year average since 2013.