The country’s first dog-fighting DNA database has been set up to help criminal investigators establish ties among breeders, owners, fighting pit operators and the dog victims themselves.
Even though dog-fighting is illegal in all 50 states, there is a lot of money made on fight purses and side betting. Multimillion dollar dog-fighting operations are often associated with other illegal activities like drug trafficking and gambling.
Big scale operations do not go to the pound to find fighting dogs. They are breeding them from established bloodlines. The real money comes from breeding champion fighting lines. A champion fighter can bring in up to $50,000 and a promising puppy can have a price tag of $5000.
The database, a joint effort of four different organizations, was developed following a large scale investigation last July covering seven different states which resulted in the largest dog-fighting raid in history. Twenty-six people were arrested and 400 dogs were seized.
The DNA taken from the dogs showed that many of them were related. Fighting-dog breeders will often pretend that they are just breeding pet dogs for the love of the breed and “don’t know nothin’ ‘bout no fightin’.” The DNA shows otherwise.
Using the database it will be possible to trace a dogs’ DNA back to the breeder. DNA evidence by itself will probably not result in a conviction, but combined with other evidence it makes a convincing case to take to a jury, hopefully eventually wiping out dog-fighting operations.
Many of the 400 dogs seized in the raid were injured and mutilated, but nearly 250 of them have been rehabilitated. Dogs who chose not to fight when given a choice are now serving as pets, service or therapy dogs.