Family Pets Stolen From Backyards To Train Fighting Dogs

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Johnnie Taylor
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Mike Schuh joined WJZ Eyewitness News as a general assignment reporter...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ)– A raid on a West Baltimore home turns up more than the drugs police were expecting. They also broke up a dog fighting ring. WJZ digs deeper into dog fighting with some surprising results.

Mike Schuh has the new information.

WJZ has learned that these dogs are more like thoroughbreds — their records are kept and tracked, and if successful, their offspring are sold. To keep these dogs in shape, often teenagers are sent out to steal family pets for just a couple of bucks.

Angel Brown doesn’t know what to expect.

“They shouldn’t be taking people’s dogs,” she said.

They, she says, are dog fighters. Five months ago, Ali– her pit bull– was taken from her backyard to train the fighters.

“I wouldn’t wish that on nobody,” Brown said.

So when she heard police arrested Johnnie Taylor who confiscated eight fighting dogs from a West Baltimore home, Brown realized just how lucky she is.

“And then I came to just pick my baby up,” she said.

Long before Wednesday’s case, Ali was recovered. He was stolen not once, but twice, and now this scared animal is finally going home.

He was stolen to be a bait dog, a living pice of meat thrown to the fighting dogs to make them more confident and ferocious.

“Oh, it’s a high, high, high possibility,” pit bull rescuer Eric Vocke said.

Vocke is an expert on the local scene. His dog Peyton was also a bait dog and was found by police near death. Peyton, he says, like Ali, was someone’s pet.

“Because the people who are fighting the dogs, they don’t even have the spine to go steal their own dogs,” he said. “They’ll pay minors– under 14- 13-year-old kids– to go backyard to backyard to steal someone’s pet.”

The bounty may be $20.

Shaking, scared, tail between his legs– though he’s not been outdoors in five months– Ali is lucky he is alive. And now that Brown knows he and other pit bulls have bounties on their heads, he’s not going to be let into the backyard unsupervised ever again.

“I just want them to leave my dog alone,” Brown said. “He’s been through enough.”

Experts say you should get one of those identity chips and plant it under the dog’s skin because if they are stolen and they survive, then a shelter will be able to scan it and get the dog back to you.

At last check, the man arrested on Wednesday and charged with animal cruelty is still at Central Booking.

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