BUFFALO, N.Y. — "Dog fighting probably has our highest priority in terms of animal cruelty," Aaron Kandefer, chief investigations officer with the SPCA of Erie County, said.
The issue of dog fighting is more common than you may think the SPCA said. It's mainly focused in Buffalo, but it is happening in other parts of Western New York, too.
While Kandefer said dog fighting is a major problem, prosecuting those responsible is not easy.
"There's probably a fair amount of people that have knowledge of it that are just afraid to come forward," Kandefer said.
Dog fighting is a felony offense in all 50 states. The dogs used are generally subject to inhumane training exercises that makes them violent and aggressive towards other dogs. Spectators bet on the winner while the dogs attack each other in a one-on-one fight. Most recently, Joshua Mack was sentenced to 1-3 years in state prison for prohibition of animal fighting
The people that do come forward give good information but not enough to make a case.
"Most of the time it usually is credible, but there isn't enough evidence to pursue it," Kandefer said.
One of the biggest issues is that dog fighting is becoming a family affair, which desensitizes children to the violence of it.
"A lot of times this is a family business and these children are exposed to it at a very young age and become to expect it as normal behavior," Kandefer said.
The SPCA declined to say how many dog fighting rings it's currently investigating, but did say it isn't carrying for any dogs that are victims of fighting right now.
If you see a dog with severe cuts around its face or throat left outside, the SPCA says you should call its office immediately.