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Baltimore Taking A Stand Against Dog Fighting

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Baltimore City Council is considering a move to toughen up on dog fighting. The proposal would make it a criminal offense to possess equipment that trains dogs for fights.

Meghan McCorkell reports this may make it easier to get convictions against animal abusers.

Animal advocates say dog fighting is still a major problem in Baltimore, but catching the people doing it isn't easy.

Last year, hundreds of dogs were saved from what prosecutors call a violent dog fighting ring that operated in Baltimore and beyond. Twenty-two people face charges after 15 city rowhouses were raided.

What police discovered inside was chilling.

"Blood spattered on carpets and walls. An actual ring where the dogs were being fought," said Det. Patrick Huber, Baltimore City Police Department.

Now city officials want to make it easier to bust people training dogs to fight by making the tools to do it illegal.

"If you possess the paraphernalia for dog fighting, then we're going to be taking you to the fullest extent of the law," said Robert Curran, Baltimore City Council.

"It's extremely difficult to break up dog fighting rings at the moment that they occur," said Dr. Leana Wen, Baltimore City Health Commissioner.

Under a new proposal, possessing dog fighting equipment would be illegal.

Some of the banned items -- breeding stands used to immobilize female dogs and something called a breaking stick.

"What this is used for is to just separate two dogs that are fighting," said Jonathan with Baltimore Bully Crew -- an organization that rehabilitates fighting dogs.

Jonathan says dog fighting is rampant.

"It's everywhere," he said. "It's not just this area, it's everywhere."

The SPCA estimates that tens of thousands of people across the country are involved in dog fighting.

Animal advocates say it's time for tougher laws in Maryland.

"It is very difficult to convict because it's such an underground problem that oftentimes evidence is hard to come by," said Amy, Baltimore Bully Crew.

Now this new proposal could put more dog fighters behind bars.

Under the new proposal, owning dog fighting equipment would be punishable with a $1,000 fine and up to 90 days behind bars.

The City Council plans to hold a public hearing on the proposal this fall.

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