I am certain that someone must have looked upon the title of this posting with horror or disgust. (I refer to you who shall remain nameless, although everyone will know of whom I speak.) No, this story is not about carnivorous meal preparation, that has not come to the forefront as the story has broken. The poaching is not in reference to someone shooting poodles for game or sport. It centers around the disappearance of a large number of them.
....Initial reports had suggested that the recent encroachment of wolves into urban areas may well have been the explanation. There have been several reports of pets being killed and eaten by small packs of wolves. While that evidence seems to support that theory, the sheer number of reports relating to missing pets was considered too high to be explained away by predation.
....The expansion of human intrusion into the few remaining sanctuaries for wildlife has forced the wolf, as well as bears, to seek food and shelter ever closer to man's settlements. Small pets such as domestic cats and dogs are easier prey than rabbits and squirrels.
....A recent compilation of facts and reports over a nearly two-year period, however, is presenting a different picture of what may be really going on. A pool of information gathered from several states started to form a more sinister picture. The larger number of dogs missing was a particular breed of dog. Nearly 80 percent of the dogs reported missing were poodles. The numbers included toy, miniature and standard poodles of all colors.
....Although outlawed in every state of the Union, there are many raids and arrests involving gambling on fighting dogs. There are millions of dollars passed on the wagering at dog fights. These operations constantly are on the move to avoid law enforcement intervention. For every one that is busted in raids, two or three more are up and running within weeks. Dog fighting as well as cock fighting are very popular among Mexicans and Asians.
....Interrogations of some of those arrested have revealed a grim connection to the missing poodles. High strung, especially those close bred pedigrees, standard poodles are the favorite training dog for owners of pit bulls, rottweilers, dobermans and shepherds. The poodles are put into training fights with the more vicious fighting dogs. The poodles are sacrificed to ensure that the fighting dogs maintain their thirst for the kill. As for the toys and miniatures, they are apparently taken to hide the fact that standards are the actual targets. The owners of the fighting dogs pay upwards of $300 apiece for these dogs. Under arrest, one man said they never see the smaller dogs. They assume they are disposed of somehow.
....Investigators say that what few poodles they do find have been mistreated and are trained to become vicious themselves to provide sport against the fighting dogs. These recovered dogs cannot be deprogrammed to be returned to the former owners. As a result, these animals are put to sleep.
....In the meantime, by the time the dogs have disappeared from the homes, yards and streets it usually too late. It is several days to weeks before these disappearances are sorted out and separated from all the reports of missing dogs. Resources of the many small towns as well as some cities are stretched too thin to be used to monitor missing pets. The dog-nappers keep a low profile by hitting different areas in different states in attempt to avoid setting patterns. One investigator compared the operation to that of the drug trade. He said some of these dogs are in fact taken by wolves, but most are abducted by "wolves in sheep clothing."
(I for one, found this article disturbing. I had once read of this, but I had no idea that it was so well organized and on such a large scale. I suppose because of on-going investigations and trials pending, that is why very little facts, if known, were included in the article. It was at the bottom of p.32 next to ads, probably inserted as a filler. I tried a little internet searching, but didn't find much of anything.)