KHS assists in dog fighting raid in Oshtemo Twsp

Oshtemo Township, MI, February 17, 2016– Kalamazoo County Animal Services & Enforcement has been investigating dog fighting in Kalamazoo, which has led them to 7645 W KL Avenue for the second time since August 2012. A specialized team of law enforcement and animal welfare experts from Kalamazoo County Animal Services, the Kalamazoo County Sheriff Department, Kalamazoo Humane Society and Humane Society of the United States converged on the property belonging to Kelvin Thomas, 55, at approximately 9:00am on Wednesday morning. The search uncovered 3 Doberman Pinschers, 7 Pit Bull Terriers and evidence of dog fighting.

Thomas was a primary suspect in the 2012 dog fighting raids led by Kalamazoo County Animal Services. At that time, 32 dogs were removed from his property as well as overwhelming evidence of dog fighting, including a bloody fighting pit. He pled guilty to two charges in December of 2012 and received a sentence of $500 and court fines, 160 hours of community service and a two-year probation where Thomas was not to own or possess animals. Thomas only spent two days in jail.

None of the dogs seized on Wednesday were registered as required by state law, and all of the dogs were kept in the same pens and dog houses as those that were removed in 2012.

“Dog fighting is a serious offense that happens everywhere; not just major cities. Thomas is just one suspect on a long list of others in the Kalamazoo area,” says Mark Vanderberg, the investigating officer from Kalamazoo County Animal Services.

Charges are expected to be filed against Thomas after the dogs and evidence have been examined. There is no statement yet on the individual condition of the dogs that were seized, however there was a veterinarian at the scene during the search and seizure operation.

If Thomas is charged as a result of this latest investigation, this will be his third time facing charges for dog fighting.

If you suspect any dog fighting activity, contact Kalamazoo County Animal Services at 269-383-8775, or the animal services department for your county.

“Dog fighting is a well-hidden crime. Without the help of concerned citizens, many dog fighters will go undetected. We know It’s scary to step up and make a report, but it’s important to do the right thing for animals and for our community.” Says Aaron Winters, Executive Director of the Kalamazoo Humane Society.

If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Julie Barber at 269-743-0393 or email jbarber@kazoohumane.org.

Humane Society of the United States Coverage:
http://www.humanesociety.org/news/press_releases/2016/02/kalamazoo-dogfight-raid-021716.html

April 8th is National Dog Fighting Awareness Day

Happy National Dog Fighting Awareness Day!

Before her rescue, "Giselle" was chained infront of her dog house, hidden in the woods where no one would hear her barks for help.

Before her rescue, “Giselle” was chained infront of her dog house, hidden in the woods where no one would hear her barks for help.

That didn’t sound right, did it?  It’s sad that there even needs to be a day to bring attention to this horrible crime, and yet everyday, countless animals will suffer because people will use the human-animal bond for profit, even if it means the death or torture of an animal.

Kalamazoo has its own ties to dog fighting.  The Kalamazoo Humane Society was able to assist in the dog fighting raids that occurred right here in Kalamazoo in the late summer of 2012.  Over the course of 3 weeks, three Kalamazoo area homes were targeted and at each home, dogs and evidence of dog fighting were discovered.  Two of the three homes had bloody pits on the premises, which speaks volumes to the frequency these animals were forced to fight each other to please their owners.

This is old news, but don’t think that there aren’t still dog fighters in Greater Kalamazoo who have learned from the 2012 raids and are changing tactics.  Dog fighters live in the city or country; they work/play/worship at the same places you work/play/worship.  Dog fighting is not limited by race, religion or financial stature.  Dog fighting is everywhere and can only be stopped if people are willing to see it and report it.

Giselle now lives the way every dog should; safe, happy and loved.

Giselle now lives the way every dog should; safe, happy and loved.

You will likely never witness a fight in action.  Finding a dog fight in progress is nearly impossible, even for professional response teams.  Despite the slim chance of finding an actual fight, you will see other signs that an animal owner is using dogs for fighting including:

  • Unusually high turn-over – Dogs may come and go frequently.  Some dogs may eventually return and others may not.
  • Equipment above what the “average” owner may keep on hand such as treadmills/slat mills, flirt poles, weighted collars, garage door springs attached to the dog chains, and other items not normally used by the average dog owner.
  • Dogs separated by chains, kennels or fencing – Fighting dogs need to be kept apart
  • Barrel-style dog houses
  • Frequent barking coming from wood areas or far behind houses
"Crosby" was rescued from the home of Leonard Turner of Kalamazoo Township.  He was only about 8 weeks old when he was saved, and never had to know the horrors of the Pit.

“Crosby” was rescued from the home of Leonard Turner of Kalamazoo Township. He was only about 8 weeks old when he was saved, and never had to know the horrors of the Pit.

There are many other signs of dog fighting.  From our experience, many fighting dogs do not look like “pure bred” Pit Bulls.  The large, barrel-chested stocky Pit Bulls are generally show dogs or pets and are not good for fighting.  Leaner Pit Bull mix dogs tend to be what we see more of in this area.  The dogs can be any color but are rarely blue or grey.  Black and white, brindle and buckskin colored dogs were found more often than other colors.  Fighting dogs can be kept indoors or outdoors, in sheds, garages, basements, wooded areas or barns.

The HSUS offers up to a $5,000 reward to anyone who reports dog fighting that results in criminal charges.  One of the witnesses to report dog fighting at the home of Kelvin Thomas on W. KL  Avenue did receive a full $5,000 payout for the tip that led to Thomas’ arrest.

Please keep in mind that not all Pit Bull owners are dog fighters and not all Pit Bulls are aggressive!

If you suspect dog fighting, contact your local Animal Control department.  Kalamazoo County residents should contact Kalamazoo County Animal Services & Enforcement at 269-383-8775.

Dog Fighting can also be reported directly to the HSUS Tipline at 1-877-TIP-HSUS or 1-877-847-4787

Aaron Winters, Executive Director of the Kalamazoo Humane Society, assists in the rescue of fighting dogs in August 2012 in Oshtemo Township, MI alongside Kalamazoo County Animal Services and the HSUS.

Aaron Winters, Executive Director of the Kalamazoo Humane Society, assists in the rescue of fighting dogs in August 2012 in Oshtemo Township, MI alongside Kalamazoo County Animal Services and the HSUS.

Related Media:

Related Dog Fighting Information:

via National Dog Fighting Awareness Day | ASPCA.

KHS Blog Authors

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