STEELE, MO (KFVS) - Five pit bulls seized when police raided a Steele, Missouri home on Friday appear to be recovering.
Investigators suspect the homeowner of running a dog fighting ring.
Animal investigators say it has become a big problem in the past couple of years.
In this case, a Steele police detective says she kept an eye on the dogs from afar after noticing them outside in the heat and cold without food, water or shelter.
When investigators finally went inside the suspect's home, they say they found a lot worse.
Investigators point out what they call "battle wounds" on the pit bulls -- torn ears, deep scars on their faces and injuries on their bodies.
Captain Beverly Alexander also points out the fighting stance a couple of the dogs take - tails tucked between their legs, allegedly trained to pounce with a simple flick of the hand.
In fact, the difference between the alleged fighter dogs and the suspect's stud dog is stunning.
He's friendly as can be, and even tries to get my attention.
"If they don't perform, the owners will get mad and shoot them," Alexander said. "Guns are at all the fights, we have felons carrying weapons, we have large amounts of cash and we have drugs."
Beside the pit bulls, Alexander says police also found other signs that pointed to dog fighting inside the Steele home.
"We did locate a handgun, we located over $1100 in cash, a couple of bite poles used to pry dogs apart when they are fighting and weights they used to tie to the dogs to train them and make them stronger," she said.
Caruthersville Humane Society workers say it's a growing problem.
They took in seventy pit bulls last year alone, many with severe injuries and trained to be vicious.
"I think in our area it's money and the thrill of the fight," Karol Wilcox said. "Pit bulls are a huge deal in the three state area that border us."
Police blame people in the neighborhood in Steele for not speaking up when they noticed signs of an alleged dog fighting ring in their own backyard.
They believe people were afraid of the suspect, but police say often times the quickest way to put an end to such problems is by speaking out.
"If you have five pit bulls they are either selling them, or training them to fight," Alexander said. "People in the county need to start being responsible."
There is now a tip line set up to report suspected dog fighting operations. That number is 1 (877) 920-0101.
A conviction could net you a $5000 reward.
In the meantime, the suspects at that home have not been arrested, but authorities say formal charges are pending.