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SPECIAL INVESTIGATION: Dog Fighters Online
MIAMI VALLEY -- Imagine, your precious family pet stolen and killed by dog fighters. Our investigation uncovered the cruel world of the vicious street game, now everywhere on social media.
Dog fighters favor the use of pit bulls. They show and sell their dogs online, but they're flying under the radar by calling themselves "kennels." It's deadly, illegal, and it's happening in the Miami Valley.
"It's a problem everywhere," said Lead Humane Agent Sheila Marquis of the Humane Society of Greater Dayton.
"It can be done and concealed in an abandoned house. It can be concealed in kennels, rescues, a number of ways. They're gunna try to conceal what they're doing because of course they don't want to get caught."
But what it does look like when fighters get caught- dogs typically chained outside, covered in bite marks and scars.
"It's one of the most challenging areas of what we do," Marquis added.
Busts like what happened in the Miami Valley in the early 2000's have made dog fighters more cautious and harder to catch. But investigators say the fighting hasn't stopped, and some operations are hiding online under the word "kennel."
Dayton Police Detective Keith Coberly helped bust a 2006 operation that was posing as a kennel.
"I believe they even had a kennel license," he said.
We shared some of what we found during our investigation with Coberly; Facebook pages of pit bulls, selling slat mills used to train fighting dogs, even a page in Cleveland that listed it's occupation as "Game Dogs."
"A person who is 'in the game'... that's a person who fights dogs," Coberly added, "People will steal other people's dogs and use that dog to fight against their trained dog."
That is the exact scenario Alicia Layne believes happened to her pit bull Onyx, in the Miami Valley's most recent case of suspected dog fighting. Onyx went missing, and was later found dead.
"There was just cuts and bite marks all over him," Alicia said, "And they shot him right between the eyes and threw him out on the highway."
Alicia knew about suspected dog fighters hiding online, so she took the information from the police report on Onyx's case and put it to the test on Facebook. She found a suspect, even got a confession.
"He admitted that he had shot our dog but his story was just completely.. it was the dumbest story I had ever heard," she said. There hasn't yet been an arrest in the case.
"And that's what was the most frustrating when you do find out who did something so brutal to your pet and nobody will help you," Alicia added.
We wanted to see just how hard it is to track down an online 'kennel.' We saved video from one claiming to be located in Springfield. After knocking on doors at 4 addresses, and following up with two different phone numbers listed, we didn't find who we were looking for.
It's the same outcome that frustrates investigators.
"I do know this-" said Detective Coberly, "People who are in the dog fighting game are... usually say they're in it for life."
If you suspect someone in your area is dog fighting, you are eligible for $5,000 in reward monies for information leading to an arrest.
More information on Dog Fighting click HERE
More information about Onyx's disappearance click HERE
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