More dogs missing as dogfighting probe continues

WOODSTOCK — An Animal Control Officer who believes there may be a dogfighting ring in Western Maine said nearly 20 dogs have been reported missing.

West Paris Animal Control Officer Ozzie Hart said calls came in all weekend about missing dogs and possible criminal activity.

After reading about missing dogs in a Sun Journal report last week, residents have called in previously unreported cases.

A Norway family said they noticed a vehicle last week in their dooryard shortly before going outside to find their dog missing. A Canton woman called Hart with information about a pit bull that was stolen from someone who was using it for dogfighting.

“She stole it from someone who was fighting them,” Hart said. He said he was told the dog's face is badly scarred.

Most of the missing dogs are pit bull types, although a Doberman pinscher, a chocolate Lab and a yellow Lab are also missing. He said many dogs have been missing for weeks, but owners are reporting them now in fear they might have been taken by people involved in dogfighting.

Hart said people have reported seeing a dark truck and a minivan driving together, and he believes they may be working in tandem to steal dogs.

Not everyone is convinced there is dogfighting in Oxford County. Former Auburn Animal Control Officer Bentley Rathbun said the evidence, missing and murdered dogs, doesn't necessarily mean dogfighting. The sounds of barking and gunshots in the woods don't point to that, either, he said.

Professionals keep their dogs quiet, he said, and anyone who was fighting barking dogs must be an amateur.

Before his retirement, Rathbun pulled several dead pit bulls and pit bull mixes from the Androscoggin River. Ten years ago, he was a leading voice in the state for increased vigilance of dogfighting rings.

Hart said he wasn't sure the disappeared dogs are being used for fighting, but that it's likely, considering the evidence.

“I don't know that they're actually fighting them, or that they're taking the dogs and killing them,” Hart said.

According to Hart, local residents have offered to check an area along the power lines in Woodstock where people have reported hearing gunshots and barking. Hart said he told them not to because people involved in dogfighting can be dangerous.

Hart said he's continuing his investigation and has several calls scheduled this week as he gathers information.

He hadn't heard from law enforcement officials since going public with his theory, he said. On Wednesday, Sheriff Wayne Gallant said his department is investigating the matter and that a detective has been assigned to the case.

Dogfighting in Maine is a Class C felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine for each offense. Viewing a dogfight is a Class D offense.

treaves@sunjournal.com

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Comments

doing something about it

AS WAS SAID EARLIER WE SHOULD STAND TO MAKE TOUGHER LAWS BUT I DONT SEE ANYONE DOING THIS HOW WOULD WE GET STARTED ? WHO WOULD WE TALK TO ? IF SOME ONE CAN GIVE ME THE ANSWERS I WOULD GLADLY DO MY BEST TO HELP OUT.

Nick Adams's picture

Been a while since I have

Been a while since I have looked into this, but I'm pretty sure you have to run it through Augusta and they have to approve it with 2/3 vote and then LePage has to sign it. Don't quote me on it, I feel like I've forgotten politics in the past few years.

Greg Rose's picture

Deplorable!

While dog fighting is deplorable, one must consider how well supervised those now missing dogs were when they were taken. When my dog is outside, I am usually out with him or at least within earshot. I would know if someone was near. I would never dream of leaving my dog outside when I was not home. If that was required for some reason, he would have a VERY secure outdoor containment system... not a logging chain on a tree and a plywood doghouse. Dog owners have a responsibility to protect their animals to the best of their abilities. My heart goes out to those whose pets are missing. Hopefully, their losses will cause others to better secure and protect their animals.

Any person participating in any part of a dog fighting operation should be used as training bait for police dogs... and THEN fined and jailed. But, as another comment points out, that would be MILD treatment compared to some street level justice that a stalwart Mainer and his/her 12 gauge may deliver.

TOM FOURNIER's picture

$5,000.00 fine?? Slap on the wrist from dumbass legislators!!!

What kind of human being enjoys watching two animals tear each other apart? The anti-dogfighting laws need to be much tougher, and a national registry should be kept to track this state-by-state. It doesn't seem like this is going to stop unless we make the punishment fit the crime. Mandatory sentences of at least 5 years should be imposed upon anyone involved (1st offense, no bullshit charges). No parole, no excuses, no 'good behavior' let-off. It would be a nice addition to make them wear tight dog collars, and heavy chains, and eat from dog dishes on the floor. They’re all cruel evil pigs. They don’t deserve to live on this earth for the skumbags they are. Just give me 5 minutes with those bastards, they’d wished they where never born! They’re cold, cruel, greedy people who could care less that an innocent dog is being brutally killed. They stand there cheering them on like a bunch of idiots. Mere words cannot express my sadness over dog fighting, puppy mills, zoos, circuses, etc. The basic issue is simple: "The question is not, can they reason? Nor, can they talk? But, can they suffer?" ~Jeremy Bentham, philosopher and animal rights activist.(1748-1832).

Nick Adams's picture

amend

So why don't we as people do something about the law on dogfighting and amend it to be a Class B or Class A. Get it put into the State for this change and make it an offense that is severe enough to really make people think twice about doing this.

Nick Adams's picture

All I am gonna say is

All I am gonna say is hopefully law enforcement will solve this before the true blood "mainahs" find the person/s behind this. I know how Mainers are, and they like to take matters into their own hands. As much as some people would like to see that, let justice and the Courts do its job, whether you agree with the class of crime it may be or not.

Melissa  Dunn's picture

"Dogfighting in Maine is a

"Dogfighting in Maine is a Class C felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine for each offense. Viewing a dogfight is a Class D offense."

that just makes me sick. its a mere slap on the wrist. it like kidnapping for crying out loud! and nothing for murder. i hope this is not their missing dogs fate. this is sickening.

dog fighting

I am glad to see that we are still looking in to this problem even if they are not fighting these dogs someone is still taking family pets and abussing them or just plain killing them these people need to be found and put away before they start doing something else do we need to lock up our kids to if there is any way to help this problem let people know we are ready for some action

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