By Alex DeMetrick

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — It’s brutality that stretches from the Dark Ages to modern Baltimore–the vicious business of dog fighting. It’s a crime in Maryland.

Alex DeMetrick reports, now, more than ever, police are being trained to find it.

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It’s become a new focus of policing in Baltimore. The dogs are the victims. The lucky are rescued.

These dogs were found here last year, when police went looking for drugs.

“And they actually discovered at that location 11 dogs. One of the dogs was deceased,” said Col. Dan Lioi, Baltimore City Police.

But other signs of dog fighting were there. Heavy chains, multiple bowls in squalid surroundings, even a homemade treadmill used to exercise and strengthen dogs.

It’s evidence of a crime not all police might recognize.

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“They may be there on a domestic dispute, they may step over a lot of the equipment we’re presenting in this training because it’s not common knowledge,” said Kyle Held, ASPCA trainer.

So ASPCA experts are teaching police what to look for–like training sticks to toughen bites, or the skulls of puppies killed because they were judged unfit for fighting.

“Very often the things that are involved in dog fighting, like the way dogs are housed,” said Officer Patrick Hunter, Baltimore City Police. “A large number of dogs kept just out of reach, where the animals just might be kept in individual kennels in a basement in the Bronx where he had over 50 dogs in the basement.”

While dog fighting uses a lot of the same common equipment, investigators have also found some common motivators.

“Money is the number one driver. Ego is very close behind that–raise the biggest, baddest dog and make a name for themselves. It’s one of the most barbaric things you can do with an animal,” Held said.

Dog fighting is illegal in all 50 states. The standard penalty is five years in prison.

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