A Look at Dogfighting in the Heartland

A Look at Dogfighting in the Heartland
By: CJ Cassidy

DUDLEY, Mo. - Twenty five injured dogs are in good hands after being rescued from what investigators call a dogfighting ring operating in Stoddard County.
A tip led Stoddard County Sheriff's deputies to the operation that apparently had all the markings of a professional set up.
Humane Society workers and Stoddard County deputies rescued more than two dozen pit bulls and one beagle.
They are being evaluated by veterinarians at the Humane Society of Missouri in St.Louis.
The animals are covered in scars and wounds.  Some injuries are fresh while others may be several years old.  The dogs' conditions are being catalogued for prosecutors.

Meanwhile, three men have been arrested.  Jamie Sifford, 29 of Dudley, Jessey Short, 30, of Cape Girardeau, and Curtis Pickering, 28, of South Fulton, Tennessee face felony charges of dogfighting.  Sifford faces drug charges as well.

So what goes into a dog fighting operation?  To begin with experts say a lot of animal cruelty.  They usually find dogfighting operations in rural areas, away from prying eyes.
If you're surprised the pit bulls investigators seized from an alleged dog fighting operation don't attack their rescuers, you're not alone.
Animal experts say consider this:
"A lot of these dogs used for fighting are great with people but they attack other animals," said Lanette Baker with the Sikeston Humane Society.  She's often suspected dogfighting rings in the area like the one investigators say they busted in Dudley.
That's why she shows people a disturbing documentary titled "Off the Chain" to help them realize the pain and horror, pit bulls go through in these rings.
"They're really into it.  They have treadmills they hook the dogs up to, and sometimes these are family pets.  They work them out like athletes, give them steroids and creatine to help them with growth.  They're serious about it," Baker said.
Besides treadmills and heavy chains, investigators also say the evidence left behind on the pit bulls in Stoddard County shows bloody proof of earlier fighting.
"We saw some scars that look like they probably date back a couple of years," said Tim Rickey with the Humane Society of Missouri.  He said that's how long they believe the operation's been around.
Those scars run deep in other ways too.  Investigators say many fighting dogs don't pose a risk to people, but they do to other animals and that makes it hard to adopt them out.
That still doesn't mean they'll give away pit bulls like these to just anybody.
"We had a gentleman come in the other day.  We had a rather large pit bull.  He was roughing it up trying to see what his temperament was, and he was totally pleased with the reaction.  We had to ask him to leave," Baker said.
Jamie Sifford's parents did not want to comment.  They say they hope to see everything play out in a court of law.