If you think dog fighting isn't a problem in your community, experts say think again. They are helping local law enforcement deal with a crime that can lead to others.
Shelters like Wayside Waifs in Kansas City, MO, often are tasked with rehabilitating dogs rescued from cruelty and dog fighting rings.
Law enforcement learned more Wednesday about how to detect signs of dog fighting because, often times, cruelty and fighting go unreported.
"These sticks are used to break dogs off of each other. They won't stop biting on command, obviously. This stick has to be inserted in the mouth and twisted," said Terry Mills with the ASPCA Blood Sport Division during the presentation.
Plastic tools like a break stick might look like a harmless garden tool, but ASPCA taught law enforcement that items like them are just the opposite.
"There's a lot of paraphernalia that, to the naked eye or an uneducated eye, you would walk past on a home visit for a police officer on a domestic violence case," Kyle Held with ASPCA said.
During the presentation, officials said those types of objects point to signs of animal cruelty and dog fighting, crimes that can go innocently unenforced by authorities.
"A lot of it, they aren't educated on it. That's why we do the classes we do so they feel comfortable enough to investigate an animal cruelty case as a blood sport case," Held said.
Held and Mills worked undercover to crack Missouri 500, one of the largest animal cruelty cases in the Midwest. They rescued hundreds of dogs, but also uncovered many more crimes.
"Often, and more often than not, there are other crimes involved. There's usually at dog fights - we bought almost every drug - heroine, crack, coke, pills, guns and such - at dog fights," Mills said.
According to the Humane Society of the United States, there is no reporting system for animal abuse, but former undercover agents said people would be surprised how common it is in their community.
"Animal cruelty is one of those things you don't hear about a whole lot, but it's there," Held said.
More than 16 law enforcement agencies in the Kansas City metro attended the two-day seminar.
Click here for more information on animal cruelty.
Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
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