Injured pit bulls renew concerns about dogfights

Dogfighting is an illegal blood sport, but Lawrence Humane Society officials say they are convinced it is all too common in Douglas County.

Animal cruelty investigators for the society found two pitbulls dumped in southern Douglas County. They said the recently mauled animals are evidence dogfighting is an area problem.

“We know there was a fight,” said Midge Grinstead, Lawrence Humane Society director. “We just didn’t find it.”

The Humane Society received three anonymous calls this weekend. All three callers said a dogfight took place during the weekend. It wasn’t until employees found the two dogs Tuesday morning  one of them was dead  that they knew for sure, Grinstead said.

“I was so angry,” Grinstead said Tuesday. “They told me to come look at the (surviving) dog this morning. I went in the cage, looked at her and just got really upset.”

What Grinstead saw was a brown female pitbull covered in blood, with wounds all over its head, neck and legs. The dog’s mouth was torn open, it was emaciated and had ringworms, said Stacy Hoobler, a cruelty investigator with the Humane Society.

“The people who do this to dogs, I’d like to see the same thing happen to them,” Hoobler said.

Besides fresh bite marks, the dog had a number of old injuries and scars indicating a history of fights. But the dog won’t fight again.

“We’re going to hold her three days,” Grinstead said, “make her as comfortable as we possibly can, and then she’ll have to be euthanized humanely.”

Grinstead said the dog can’t be put up for adoption because it might be dangerous.

“We just don’t take the risk of adopting them out,” she said.

The Humane Society, Grinstead said, has a list of 100 names and addresses of people suspected of being involved in dog fighting.

“I do 15 to 20 cruelty investigations a week and at least three to five of those involve pitbulls,” Hoobler said. “And it’s not in one area of town. It’s east, west, north and south. It’s everywhere in the county and in the city.”

Lawrence Police Sgt. Mike Pattrick said the department periodically receives calls about possible dog fights in the city, but officers have not been able to catch anyone in the act.

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office has not responded to any recent reports of dog fights, but Lt. Kathy Tate said the department will work with the Humane Society investigating this most recent case.

Douglas County Dist. Atty. Christine Kenney said staging a dogfight is a felony and spectators could be charged with a misdemeanor. But Kenney said she can’t recall prosecuting anyone under the state statute.