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A man convicted of staging pit bull fights in an abandoned house was placed on three years' probation today and ordered to give up his part-time job in a pet shop.

David Bishop, 46, of Laurel Street faced the possibility of a year in jail and $16,000 in fines after being convicted on two state Agricultural Law misdemeanor charges following a three-day non-jury trial last month.

Following the recommendation of the county Probation Department, City Judge Raul Figueroa instead placed Bishop on probation and directed that the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals inspect his house periodically to make sure he does not own or breed dogs.

Prosecutors and animal-protection officials urged that Figueroa impose a jail term.

Nicholas Hicks, Bishop's defense attorney, said Bishop is a volunteer in activities for youths and described him as "a perfect candidate for probation."

"He's a father, a husband of 22 years, a grandfather, a man with strong family values," Hicks said. "There would be no justice served whatsoever by incarcerating this man."

During the trial, Police Officer Robert Salamone testified that about two-dozen people, including Bishop, fled when he stopped a fight between two dogs in an abandoned house at 91 Laurel on Oct. 19, 1996. A dead dog was found there, and another nine pit bulls were seized at Bishop's home next door, Salamone said.

Dr. Matthew Souza of the Buffalo Small Animal Hospital and Joe Bald of the City Animal Shelter testified that all of the pit bulls were severely malnourished and neglected and had to be destroyed.

Two defense witnesses testified that Bishop was attending a Little League football game the day of the raid.

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