Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley announced today the launch of a 24-hour tip line and program that will pay residents up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest or conviction of individuals involved in the brutal sport of dog fighting.
Beginning today, residents can call 1-877-NO2FITE and provide information about a dog fighting ring, an upcoming dog fight or an individual who is involved in dog fighting.
If someone is aware of a fight in progress, they should call 911 immediately, Cooley said.
“Our goal is to encourage citizens to help law enforcement root out a brutal crime that often goes unreported and occurs in the shadows,” Cooley said during a press conference.
Joining Cooley was Jennifer Fearing, California senior state director with The Humane Society of the United States, which is funding the reward program and helping to fund the tip line. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office is the first in the nation to join forces with HSUS to launch a tip line dedicated to eradicating dog fighting.
“Los Angeles County residents have a true champion for animals in District Attorney Cooley,” Fearing said. “Dog fighting is a horrifically cruel blood sport and this tip line will be an excellent tool to help expunge this crime from Los Angeles.”
Cooley said the program is unique in that calls will be answered by a person 24 hours a day. The tip line will be available in both Spanish and English.
The tips will be passed on to the appropriate law enforcement agency for investigation.
Residents who call can remain anonymous and still collect up to $5,000 if the information leads to arrests or convictions for dog fighting.
Illegal dog fighting is a felony that carries a maximum sentence of three years in state prison. Being present at a fight or while preparations are being made for a dog fight is a misdemeanor that carries a sentence of up to six months in jail.
The Humane Society estimates that dog fighting is widespread in Los Angeles County. In the United States, the HSUS estimates that 40,000 people follow organized dog fighting circuits and more than 250,000 dogs are made to suffer in dog fighting pits each year.
Cooley added that law enforcement is keenly aware that tips on dog fighting most likely will lead to other crimes, such as drug dealing and weapons possession.
“We expect that these tips will be a starting point for major criminal investigations,” he said.
Also joining Mr. Cooley were Clancy, a 13-year-old pit bull rescued off the streets of South Los Angeles when he couldn’t win any more fights for his owner, and Honey, 2 1/2-year-old pit bull possibly used as a bait dog.
A true survivor, Clancy was emaciated, weighing just 65 pounds, when he was discovered on a woman’s front lawn two years ago. His ears were so infected he couldn’t lift his head. Now he weighs 90 pounds and is the lead dog at Downtown Dog Rescue, helping other pit bulls become social so that they can be adopted too. He is a wonderful example of a dog that beat all the odds to become a loving pet, living in his home with five other dogs.
Honey is a 2 1/2-year-old pit bull found last year lying in the street in a pool of blood with extensive puncture wounds. She appeared to have been slashed with a razor blade and possibly used as a bait dog.
Honey was rushed to an emergency vet in Santa Monica who saved her life. Following weeks of recovery, she went to a foster home and then was adopted by her current owner who met her at a dog park.