ABC's Z. Byron Wolf reports:
Sen. Robert Byrd had been frail for a number of years before his death Monday morning, but his physical condition did not stop him from taking to the Senate floor in 2007 to decry dogfighting. An avowed animal lover, Byrd spoke often at committee hearings of his beloved dog. He did not take kindly to the dogfighting scandal that embroiled NFL quarterback Michael Vick. Here’s how this reporter reported one of his final, memorable floor speeches.
July 19, 2007 5:42 PM
ABC News' Z. Byron Wolf reports: Senate President Pro Tempore Robert Byrd is old and shaky, but he's still got the fire in his belly when he wants to call it up. That was on full display Thursday afternoon when this business of dog fighting drove the longest serving Senator to the Senate floor for a speech the likes of which other, younger senators might have liked to summon during the Iraq War debate this week.
He declared that he has seen one execution in his life -- a man put to death in the electric chair. "Its not a beautiful thing," he said. "I could say I could witness another one if it involves (long pause) this cruel, sadistic, cannibalistic, business of training these vulnerable creatures to kill."
Byrd outlines what happens in a dog fight, punctuating his speech with shouts of "SHAME! SHAME!" How inhuman! How dastardly!"
"God created the dog to be man's companion," Byrd cried.
"Two dogs are placed in a pit. placed in a pit. get that. and turned loose against each other. The fight can go on for hours," he declared. The fight can go on for hours. hear me? (whole body shaking). The fight can go on for hours!"
"Who are the real animals? Who are the real animals? The creatures inside the ring? Or the creatures outside the ring?"
"Barbaric. Barbaric! May god help those poor souls. Hear me."
Talking about why he loves dogs, Byrd said, "The mere petting of these social creatures can lower the blood pressure of humans."
Byrd said he is proud that people perpetrating dogfights "will have to answer to our judicial system. And may god help their souls."
Byrd has given impassioned homily's on Man's Best Friend before. In April of this year, he spent his time during a Senate hearing on the dog food recall talking about his Shih Tzu, Trouble, named by his late beloved wife Erma, who Byrd says said "here comes trouble" the first time she saw the dog coming.
Byrd calls the dog, which sleeps on his bed, Baby.
Watch the speech HERE .