Man Says Dog Shows Signs It was Forced to Fight

Man Says Dog Shows Signs it was Forced to Fight
By: Carly O'Keefe

WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Ill.- When a stray pit-bull showed up at Marty Davis' home two weeks ago, Davis started calling him 'Pumpkin'.  By his gentle demeanor, it would seem Pumpkin is a lover not a fighter, but marks all over his head and body indicate to some the dog might have a darker past.

"Who knows when a homeless dog shows up what their background is, but he has scars and broken teeth--so that speaks volumes. I think he was forced to fight," said Davis.

As near as Davis and his veterinarian can tell, Pumpkin is only about a year old, but has more than a lifetime's worth of wear and tear.

"There is pretty bad scarring all over the place. I've noticed his eye watering a lot.  I think there's permanent damage. And he has teeth marks and scratches all over him," said Davis.

"He's got so many scars and you can see the stitch marks where someone who was not a veterinarian was stitching him up so they could put him back together and do this again to him," said Williamson County Assistant State's Attorney Michael Ruffley.

Ruffley is Davis' neighbor.  The men say Pumpkin's case isn't the first evidence of dogfighting they've seen in Williamson County or even on their street.

"Four or five years ago we had some information that there were some organized groups in Herrin, but the Herrin P.D. followed up on it and they disappeared," Ruffley said.

"I've seen dogfighting in our neighborhood," said Davis. "They were yelling get him! 'Kill him!'  I wish I could have 30 seconds in a ring with them, but they're afraid to fight themselves. They're cowards, that's what they are."

Jackson County Animal Control Officer Lloyd Nelson said he's never found any evidence of any organized dog fighting outfits in the area, but said southern Illinois is seeing pet owners take dogfighting out of the ring and into the streets.

"It's what we're calling in the animal control industry "street rolling."  It's wanna-be gang bangers and street thugs.  A lot of times they'll let [the dogs] spar in the street and that is illegal as well.  If you let dogs fight for entertainment, that's a felony," Nelson said.

Obviously, not all dogs that have scarring or broken teeth have been used for dogfighting. No one can even be sure if Pumpkin was even forced to fight.  Authorities say if you see a dog with those types of injuries, it's best to report it to your local police.  Either way in this case, Marty Davis says he plans to find Pumpkin a new home with new owners who will keep him safe.