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Trending: Snow Melt Reveals Dozens of Dead Dogs in Park

Dog fighting is a problem across the country and illegal in all 50 states.

By some estimates, as many as 50,000 dogs roam the streets of Detroit, many of them abandoned by impoverished families. But dog fighting is also a big problem, animal welfare advocates say. (Screenshot: DAWG YouTube video)
By some estimates, as many as 50,000 dogs roam the streets of Detroit, many of them abandoned by impoverished families. But dog fighting is also a big problem, animal welfare advocates say. (Screenshot: DAWG YouTube video)

UPDATE: Police: Reports of Dead Fighting Dogs 'Highly Embellished' 

By Beth Dalbey

Detroit, Michigan – Melting snow revealed dozens of dead dogs in a park – many of the animals were victims of dog fighting, authorities said.

River Rouge Park apparently has become a dumping ground for dogs killed in illegal fighting, the Detroit Animal Welfare Group (DAWG), told WWJ, the CBS affiliate in Detroit. The bodies of at least 28 large dogs, mostly pit bulls and Mastiff mixes, were found in the park, DAWG board member NIcole Litzelman said.

“Because of the heavy snowfall in the month of January, a lot of these deceased bodies were discarded there because it was easier to cover them up. Also, it was an unusually cold month where a lot of dogs froze outside or were left to starve to death,” Litzelman told WWJ’s Kathryn Larson. “This is just a small tip of the iceberg. Right now, since the snow is melting, I’m sure we’re going to find quite a few more bodies in the park.”

Litzelman said the bite wounds on the dogs are consistent with fighting, which is illegal in Michigan and elsewhere in the United States.

Nationally, the Animal Legal Defense Fund and the Humane Society have been combating dog fighting and raising awareness for years.

The problem is so pervasive in Michigan that in 2012,  Gov. Rick Snyder signed the toughest anti-dog-fighting legislation in the country, making the offense punishable by up to 20 years in jail and fines of $100,000. Dogfighting was a felony prior to the legislation, but carrying a four-year-jail sentence and a maximum fine of $50,000.

Those involved in dogfighting can’t put the bodies of the dogs, which fight to the death, in the trash because they fear being reported.

“A majority of them are due to illegal activities, such as fighting. It’s consistent with the bite wounds that are on the dogs. Most of them have either bled to death or have large gaping wounds that were never treated,” Litzelman said. “The park is well-know for dog fighting and has a high activity for drugs and other illegal activities.”

Other dogs may have been abandoned by families – non-human casualties of the Detroit’s bankruptcy and rapid population decline, from 1.8 million people to only 700,000. In a report last summer, Bloomberg said as many as 50,000 dogs are roaming the streets of Detroit.

Some of the dogs found at the sprawling 1,200-acre River Rouge Park are clinging to life and are being gathered to be used as bait dogs in fighting.

“We were just tipped off that there are some people down there trying to feed these dogs to use them as bait dogs,”

DAWG organized an event Saturday to cleanup carcasses and capture as many of the live dogs as possible, but  as poverty continues to roil Detroit, finding homes for the abandoned dogs is a problem left to animal welfare-groups to solve.

“The city is cash-strapped and is having issues as far as police coverage, so somebody has got to try to take ahold of the problem and do something,” Litzelman said.

If you’d like to help DAWG, visit dawghous.com or Facebook.

For more information on dog fighting and how you can help, visit the Animal Legal Defense Fund and the Humane Society.
Grumpy Old Man April 03, 2014 at 07:23 AM
Beege - I agree that there are many positions in the military which women can fulfill successfully and they are meaningful. I just draw the line at front line combat. I think the ladies can and should go through basic to familiarize with the basic skills of a soldier (you never know in a place like Afghanistan, when you will need to fire a weapon in a "base camp" but after that support services. Gunny - keep the faith - we will prevail. We've had one too many wars in which not enough thought was put into starting and conducting and we do need to take a break, get our priorities straight, get the kind of treating and care for our servicemen (and women) who have been wounded or have ptsd and get our economic house in order. But, I am a fervent believer in a strong, multi--tasked competent military which is capable of fighting any type of conflict, primarily in the hope that the knowledge will deter any foreign aggressor before we have to deploy our troops.
gregory l. mitchell April 04, 2014 at 01:41 AM
Ms Beege:As we all know it is a very small world.Because of this I'm thinking you had a family member who may have gone to the U.S.Naval Academy in Annapolis,Md.-This is just a hunch As my late brother did,he was class of 1953.He went back in the Marine Corps and retired after 24 yrs in 1972 & passed away in 1978 from a malignant brain tumor.HE WAS ONLY 49!!!!!He enlisted in 1946 and was in mainland China when he earned a Fleet Appointment to the Academy as a SGT.E-4(the old rank structure before we had the Lance/Cpl. E-3... His name was:FRANK H.MITCHELL JR. & retired a Lt.Col. Now that is a lot of detail but you would need this to check with your family members as you know the Corps is a small place and one never knows. Strange story:Met a guy here in town who is a retired airline pilot and found he was an Annapolis grad of '53 and lived right across the hall from my brother!! He was originally from St. Louis,Mo.--CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT,how people can come together.Sorry to talk so long.Respectfully, "Gunny Mitch"(former)West Caldwell,New Jersey "Semper Fi"
Beege Marshall April 04, 2014 at 03:13 PM
Gunny Mitch .... I spent 30 min. composing a good amount of detailed info in response to your last post here and suddenly it disappeared !!! FRUSTRATING !!! Yes, it is a small world and there just might be several overlaps in time and place at Annapolis with your brother. Four relatives went to Annapolis and the eldest one (Admiral) was an instructor about the time your brother was there, and one of his sons maybe a cadet with your brother. Think both of the Admiral's sons went, and also his son in law. ALL ended up career Navy. The son in law (my uncle) was just below Admiral, Captain or Commander ? And other places in the Navy or Marine Corps may coincide with when he or you, were stationed at places (maybe even little me as a 1stLt.'s wife ;o) But my dog is looking up at me with that look so can't redo right now and they may eliminate this article before I can. AND for some unexplainable reason I can't draw up my past posts on here either....;o/ Since you give your name and hometown publicly, would you risk your email ? If it's aol any unwanted that may arrive can be directly instructed to "spam".... ;o) Otherwise I'll try later to see if I can give more info.
gregory l. mitchell April 04, 2014 at 06:26 PM
Good Afternoon Ms.Beege(Marshall) Outstanding,you can look around this week-end and may well locate your notes.But not to worry there is no rush.Forgot to tell you Frank did 1 tour in Viet Nam in 1964-'65 in DANANG,as a Major but don't really know what his job was there.His last duty station was the Pentagon as a Lt.Col. Remember he was told to report to work in a civilian suit & tie but don't know what he did there-he would never say(understandable) I do know what he saw here disgusted him and really caused him to retire! I do remember him saying,"The stuff he saw go across his desk made him want to go home and throw up" I did ask him what he meant & he would never say!!!!His wife did say that if he were to continue in the program he would be prostituting himself!! I don't really think he actually discussed this with his wife.He was a man that could not be bought or sold. He is buried in Homewood,ILL. just So.of Chicago(home of his wife) has one daughter in Elkhardt,Ind.& another in Edmund,Okla. with his wife who is not at all well at this time. No problem on the E-Mail Beege,it is: GMITCH08@GMAIL.COM Respectfully,Gunny Mitch. Semper Fi
Renee Zucano D'Agostino April 21, 2014 at 07:21 PM
God bless Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder.I plan to start a petition calling on Governor Cuomo along with all others to follow suit and propose legislation that makes Dogfighting just as seriously punitable as it is in Michigan.The previous incarceration time was 4 years,now it carries a 20 year term PLUS a fine of $100,000.EXCELLENT- KUDOS TO GOV SNYDER because not only will someone will be less likely to offend if theyre facing that hefty fine of $100 grand,but knowing they will ultimately spend the next 20 years of their life (which unlike money,you can never replace) should really help to cut down on some of the activity.If they wish to reduce the number of offenses even more I say make it be known that there is special incentive (cash reward)to informants who turn against those involved in this cruel, heinous activity.Dogs are man's best friend, loving,loyal companions who give us unconditional love.It is a terrible travesty to seen them abused,tortured,killed and then thrown away like trash.I hope to see tougher legislation nationwide.

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