There's a growing concern about missing pets in the Lubbock area, concern that these animals could be used for highly-organized, underground crime.
"It probably goes on more than people think," said Shawn Byrd, Shelter Supervisor at Lubbock Animal Services.
"Something like that is obviously hard to stomach when you think about the fact that humans would do that to animals just for sport," said Sgt. Jason Lewis with the Lubbock Police Department.
The highly organized, hidden, gruesome act is not just a sport. It's a crime.
"We see the typical ripped ears, the scars on the muzzle, the lower extremities, kind of signs that they've been...I hate to use the word "professionally fought," Byrd said.
That's right. Dog fighting.
KCBD has received many complaints on our Facebook page saying dogs have been taken from back yards and later found mauled to death.
"It's not just something that the celebrities, the Michael Vick, or anything like that do. It happens right here in our backyard," said Byrd.
Nevertheless, Byrd says it's extremely hard to prove.
"It's so secret. They're not going to have it somewhere where there's a lot of people. They move around. They probably don't ever have them in the same spot twice," he said.
Byrd says these thieves are looking for all types of dogs.
"They can take Chihuahuas, they can take whatever size dog, anything really that's not going to fight back. They slowly work up to larger animals, up to the more aggressive dogs that they want to be able to fight," Byrd said.
Last year a total of 43 dogs were reported stolen in the city of Lubbock.
Byrd admits the dog thefts could be related to dog fighting.
Byrd says just because he has not had any reports about dog fighting rings doesn't mean it doesn't happen.
Byrd says they call Lubbock police if they receive a report of dog fighting. The activity is frequently associated with gambling, drugs, and illegal firearms as well.
Police say the crime is a felony but it is hard to crack down on because it's such a highly secretive operation.
"Even if they don't have a dog that they're fighting, probably they're going to be gambling. We obviously want to get a hold of the property owner and have them locked up. There's no telling exactly the charges...drugs, hard to say what you're going to run into. But my guess is if you run into one, you might run into all," said Sgt. Lewis
Lewis says animal cruelty is a state jail felony meaning those fighting dogs can face six months to two years imprisonment in a state jail facility and a fine up to $10,000.
State Representative Charles Perry says he doesn't believe there should be more laws or stricter laws in place. He says we should enforce the ones we have.
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