Federal authorities in Kansas say they have broken up a multi-state dog fighting ring that included training pit bulls to fight in Kansas, Missouri and Texas.
Pete Davis Jr. and Melvin L. Robinson were charged in a criminal complaint unsealed Monday in the U.S. District Court for Kansas.
Both men were charged with one count of buying, selling, delivering or transporting animals for participation in an animal fighting venture.
The complaint alleges Davis and Robinson owned as many as 60 dogs, mostly pit bulls, that they trained and took to dog fights.
They kept the dogs at a farm in Harrison County, MO, and at their residences in Kansas City, KS, and transported some of them to fights as far away as Dallas, Texas.
"Dog fighting is not a sport - it is a crime," U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said. "Federal law prohibits cruelty to animals on the level of the events that are alleged in these charges."
Grissom thanked the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals for assisting investigators by agreeing to house and care for dogs that were seized by investigators.
According to court documents, an FBI investigation that began in November 2012 revealed that to train dogs for fighting, Robinson had a treadmill at his residence in KCK.
He routinely placed a harness on a dog and chained the harness to the treadmill for several hours at a time, court documents state. The treadmill was equipped with a plywood box to keep the dog on the treadmill.
Robinson also allegedly put weights on the dog to strengthen it and provided caged live chickens in front of the treadmill as bait.
According to court documents, Robinson and Davis discussed betting $20,000 to $30,000 on a dog they were training for a fight scheduled to take place last Saturday in Dallas. They called such fights "dog shows."
Records state that on March 17, Davis and Robinson held three dog fights involving six dogs at the farm in Missouri in preparation for the dog fight in Dallas.
At various times during the investigation, dogs died at the farm in Missouri and their bodies were discarded, according to court documents.
Investigators followed Robinson and Davis last Friday as they traveled to a location near Tyler, TX, for a dog fight.
If convicted, Davis and Robinson face a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000.
"In 2008, after the Michael Vick case, Congress increased the punishment for dog fighting," Grissom said. "What was a misdemeanor is now a felony with punishment up to five years."
Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) and The Associated Press. All rights reserved.