It seems since the Michael Vick debacle, dog fighting is the ‘hot topic’ anymore. It’s not necessarily a bad thing but it would have been much better if it didn’t take a ‘celebrity’ case to bring this atrocity to the forefront… finally!
And now the Humane Society of the United States is calling North Carolina the ‘Capital of Dog Fighting’ in the US.
Eyewitness News looks inside the seedy world of dog fighting to find out what happens during the fights, why it’s so popular in this stat and what officials need you to do to help crack down on the crime.
Professional football player Michael Vick brought the underground world of dog fighting into the spotlight, but investigators in Charlotte, and even on the national level, say dog fighting is big business here.
Eyewitness News embarked on a month-long investigation into the seedy world that some consider a sport and gained access to shocking pictures and video of dog fights in Charlotte, Gaston County and throughout North Carolina.
Reporter Susan Tran found there are many misconceptions. For one, there’s not much blood.
“They dehydrate the dogs so they don’t bleed,” said Ron Simons, a retired Animal Control officer with Charlotte-Mecklenburg police. He now works for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Alliance.
Simons said in dog fighting, it’s not a fight to the death as most people think.
“Most of the time they’re going to die as a result of lack of vet care,” he said.
Simons met Eyewitness News at an abandoned house on Houston Street in northwest Charlotte. He said illegal dog fights were held there as recently as a few months ago.
“Bets right here in Charlotte as high as $20,000,” he said.
Inside the home, the walls of the fight pit have fallen and the carpet, which was put down for traction, is scattered. Paw prints and old blood remain. The home is just a few miles away from a place in west Charlotte where police stopped a dog fighting operation a few years ago.
“North Carolina is a hub for professional dog fighting. It’s home to some of the largest breeders of these fighting dogs anywhere in the nation,” said John Goodwin with the National Human Society in Washington, D.C.
He said few people realize that North Carolina is a key player in the dog fighting world. A main reason, he said, is cultural.
“Dog fighting is something that builds up around individuals that get into this activity,” he said.
Investigators believe many who participate are brought up to see it as a sport — a high stakes gamble, not a crime. Every victory makes the dogs more valuable to breed, and a dog with five wins earns the grand champion title.
“You’re talking $25,000 per pup. Litter of 8 pups — $200,000,” Simons said.
Breeding the dogs isn’t illegal, but attending a match is and so is fighting a dog. That’s why dog fighting is so secretive.
“They’ll take you here and then move there, and they want to make sure they’re not being followed,” Simons said.
Simons is afraid the fights will continue unless more people take notice and speak up.
“We need to have citizens involved in this just like another crime. Someone dog fighting, you need to make a phone call,” he said.
Here are some things investigators say you should look for: a party-like atmosphere, lots of cars with lots of people, but the participants bring several of their pit bulls to the house. Also, look for pit bulls with wounds to its muzzle and torso. (WSOCTV)
Hopefully just because the big headlines of the Vick case are over and done with, the heat will stay on and people will notice and report. This is not something that should ever be ignored. One of the things that has been found is that usually where you have dog fighting, you also have guns and drugs and often gang involvement. We all need to do our part on the part everyone can do it just to kee your eyes open for the signs!