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St. Louis Officers Get Schooled on Dog Fighting Underworld

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KMOX/Kevin Killeen

KMOX/Kevin Killeen

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOX) – Money and egos — that’s what an investigator says the blood sport of dog fighting is all about — a crime that St. Louis police are being trained to go after more.

About 40 police and animal control officers underwent a six-hour training seminar Tuesday to look for signs of the sport being played. Some tell-tale signs of dog fighting include bloody plywood boards, a rolled-up bloody carpets and heavy dog chains.

Terry Mills with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says in St. Louis, dog fighting is hidden in basements of homes that may look normal from the outside. But inside dogs, mostly pit bulls, are stuffed into cages with bites marks on their face, ears and necks.

Terry Mills with the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (KMOX/Kevin Killeen)

Terry Mills with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (KMOX/Kevin Killeen)

“Its actually everywhere, it’s very organized, very secretive,” Mills said. “The dogs live their life with aggressive dogs, or next to aggressive dogs until they are brought out and trained for a fight.”

“They rarely get out of the crates unless they’re to fight.”

Mills worked undercover as part of an FBI team to take down a multistate dog fighting ring a couple of years ago. The 18-month investigation resulted in 100 arrests and the seizure of more than 500 dogs.

Mills said if police went after dog fighting more, they’d round up suspects for other crimes in the audience. “Dog fighting is a haven for organized crime, gangs, and drug dealers.”

Mills said dog fighters believe its their cultural right, “I heard them equated it to fishing and hunting, religion, and patriotism.”

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