After Cleveland, Ohio, dogfighter Angelo McCoy was arrested a third time in January of 2020, a neighbor told Fox 8 reporter Ed Gallek that he wondered who’d reported McCoy to the police, stating he hadn’t had the nerve. I’m happy to report that people in Detroit, Flint and Battle Creek, Michigan, did have the nerve and that it pays to have the nerve. The Humane Society of the United States offers a $5,000 reward to report dogfighting, and considering we have over 40,000 dogfighters and people breeding dogs for them scattered across the country, averaging 800 per state, you, a friend or a relative may live next to one and not even know it. Here are 10 signs your neighbor is fighting dogs (and killing dogs, cats, kittens and rabbits), whether you live in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Scotland, South Africa or the U.K.
1: Dogfighters Have a Lot of Dogs
January 15, 2020, South Carolina police arrested dogfighter Chasity Hammonds, 35, after an Atterbury Drive neighbor reported “a suspicious number of dogs” behind her house. Police rescued six pit bulls.
Usually, dogfighters have far more dogs than that. In June 2013, for example, police rescued 23 from San Antonio, Texas, dogfighter Terrence Mouton‘s property on Fest Road. Nine months earlier, they’d taken 36 from him. Georgia dogfighter James Lampkin, who was recently sentenced to three years and 10 months in prison, had 63 dogs in his back yard. Between November 2019 and March 2021, police took 107 dogs from Tacoma, Washington, dogfighter Elmer Givens Jr., who flat out told officers, “I’m not afraid of jail. I’ve been to jail, and as long as you ain’t charged me and convicted me, I’m gonna do whatever I want.”
2: Dogfighters Separate Their Dogs (So They Don’t Kill Each Other)
“[P]it bulls are ‘less tolerant’ of other dogs than many other breeds,” according to the ASPCA’s Animal Behavior Center vice president, Pamela Reid, PhD, so dogfighters and the people breeding dogs for them have to keep the dogs separated. A dog named Dylan killed his father, Scar, in “a yard accident,” per a South African website devoted to dogfighting. These are yards:
3: A Dogfighter’s Yard Has Crop Circles
Ever see the movie “Signs”?
Since dogfighters have to separate their dogs and tether them with heavy chains, their yard looks like Mel Gibson’s crop circles from a plane, helicopter or drone, which is how a neighbor helped bust the Tacoma, Washington, dogfighter mentioned above.
4. Dogfighters Replenish Their Supply of Pit Bulls with Rape Stands
As Slate explained during the Michael Vick case in 2007: “Pooches die so often in fights that owners always need new dogs. This is where the rape stand, also called a breeding stand, comes in. … The stand isn’t illegal, but dog breeders don’t normally use it; after all, female dogs in heat aren’t so particular. And most people wouldn’t want to breed poorly socialized dogs that must be strapped down to mate. But breeders of attack dogs place special value on females that are so mean they might bite any male dogs that get too close.” In fact, females have to be separated from their own puppies because they may kill them. In other words, see Nos. 2 and 3 above.
5. Dogfighters’ Dogs Travel Like Sports Teams
A dogfighter owns a lot of dogs, but he or she isn’t fighting them against each other. Dogfighters take them on the road to fight other people’s dogs. In 2004, Georgia police arrested 123 people at a Newton County dogfight. “When deputies surveyed the area, they found more than 70 cars lining the street outside the house. Only two had Newton County tags. The other cars carried out-of-state or Middle Georgia county plates,” Clayton News-Daily.com reported. In 2007, Chicago police stopped a van transporting fighting dogs. That investigation led to the arrest of six people in Tucson, Arizona. Likewise, the New York dogfighting arrest mentioned above led to the arrest of three people in Connecticut. This map, showing dogfighting arrests, raids, a Battle Creek investigation stemming from Labor Day weekend 2021 and pit bulls shot in the face in Erie, Pennsylvania, in October 2021 is a pretty good indicator they’re on the move between New York and Michigan.
If you notice a pit bull in a crate while sitting at a stop light or see people bringing dogs to your neighbor’s house, call the police.
6. Dogfighters’ Dogs Spend a Lot of Time Hanging by Their Teeth
Dogfighters and people breeding dogs for dogfighters strengthen pit bulls’ jaws by letting them hang from spring poles, which are “tug ropes attached to heavy-duty springs” that are secured to beams or tree branches. During dog fights, pit bulls latch onto each other for hours so having a strong jaw is important — until the opponent rips it off. After Christopher Lovett and Andrea Lanier were arrested for dogfighting in Georgia in May 2021, the chief deputy in the case described one dog as a “’zombie dog’ because most of the dog’s face was torn off, exposing bone.”
7. Dogfighters’ Dogs Also Spend Time on Treadmills
Dogfighters can’t take their dogs for walks because they’ll kill any animal that crosses their path. YouTube is full of examples like this one:
Consequently, dogfighters build their dogs’ endurance by forcing them to run on treadmills, slat mills or carpet mills. Other animals don’t fare well on those either. After Louisiana dogfighter Eugene Grayer‘s neighbor reported him because she never saw him walking his 24 pit bulls and heard a lot of “barking, whimpering and [other] commotion,” animal control euthanized a raccoon he’d used as bait to motivate the dogs to keep running.
Police found blood on Warren, Ohio, dogfighter Stanley Redd Jr.‘s treadmill in May 2021.
8. Dogfighters Have a Blood-Stained “Pit”
Warren, Ohio, police also found dogfighter Stanley Redd Jr.’s pit, which looks like a boxing or wrestling ring when constructed:
But is usually deconstructed and concealed like an Alabama dogfighter‘s pit:
9. Dogfighters in Your Neighborhood Might Also Own a Catmill
What’s a catmill? Precisely what it sounds like. “The dogs are chained to one beam and another small animal like a cat, small dog, or rabbit is harnessed to or hung from another beam. The dogs run in circles, chasing the bait,” Michigan State University College of Law says. “Once the exercise sessions are over, the dogs are usually rewarded with the bait they had been pursuing.” Columbus, Ohio, dogfighter Charles Granberry had catmills — plural.
10. The Most Obvious Sign Your Neighbor Is Fighting Dogs (and Killing Dogs, Cats, Kittens and Rabbits): They’re Fighting Dogs and Killing Dogs, Cats, Kittens and Rabbits
As I’ve repeated several times in this blog and dozens of times in tweets: dogfighters don’t look the way you expect them to look. If, from the 10 signs above, you suspect your neighbor is fighting dogs, please report that person to the police, the FBI or the Humane Society of the United States and help prevent more animals from being killed.