At least 20 dogs have been reported missing in western Maine and calls continue to come in, while suspicions of a dogfighting ring grow.
Most of the dogs that are missing are pit bull types, but a Doberman pinscher, a chocolate Lab and a yellow Lab are also missing, according to the Sun Journal.
West Paris Animal Control Officer Ozzie Hart, who believes this is related to dogfighting, stated that people have reported seeing a dark truck and a minivan that may be working together. Eight of the missing dogs were taken in Woodstock, Sumner, West Paris and Hartford. The sounds of dogs barking and gunshots have also been reported near Old County Road in Woodstock.
One of the missing dogs, was a 2-year-old Staffordshire bull terrier who was taken from her yard where she was tied in West Paris. Her body was found a week later on a lawn in Hartford, wrapped in a tarp. According to Hart, who suspects she was used as a bait dog, her ears were torn and it appeared she was shot in the head.
Her owner, Kyle Kilgore, said, “She was basically one of the kids.” He doesn’t have the heart to tell his 3-year-old son, who wants to go looking for her every day, what happened to her.
“We’re all devastated,” said Sally Leighton, a board member at the Responsible Pet Care shelter, reports WGME 13. “We can’t imagine anybody doing that to an animal. We’re upset because it’s a continued problem and it seems to be getting worse.”
In addition to dogs being taken from homes, others have reported dogs being taken from cars.
Currently, dogfighting in Maine is a Class C felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine for each offense. Anyone with information is being advised to report it at 207-357-2818. The Humane Society of the United States also offers a $5000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone involved in dogfighting.
Sign the petition supporting the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act of 2011, H.R. 2492, which was recently introduced by U.S. Reps. Tom Marino, R-Pa. and Betty Sutton, D-Ohio with bipartisan support. This bill will amend current laws related to animal fighting and make knowingly attending an animal fight punishable by fines up to one year in prison, with fines and up to three years in prison for bringing a minor.
Photo credit: stephskardal via flickr