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Pitbull used in dog fighting found dead, wrapped in a blanket, in Lower Swatara Township

By Jason Maddux

jasonmaddux@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 2/16/18

A pitbull that police say was part of illegal underground dog fighting was found dead, wrapped up in a colorful blanket and stuffed in a rectangular trash can, in Lower Swatara Township on …

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Pitbull used in dog fighting found dead, wrapped in a blanket, in Lower Swatara Township

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A pitbull that police say was part of illegal underground dog fighting was found dead, wrapped up in a colorful blanket and stuffed in a rectangular trash can, in Lower Swatara Township on Thursday.

The male dog weighed 50 to 60 pounds and was black with a little bit of white on its chest and paws. It was not wearing a collar and did not have an ID chip.

The dog had its ears cut off, which is common in dog fighting, according to Lower Swatara police Detective Robert Appleby. Cutting off the ears gives the opposing dog less of an area to grab.

The dog also was covered in scratches and bite marks.

“It’s a heartbreaking thing to see, an animal that has suffered in that manner,” Appleby said.

The dog was found by a township road crew several yards into a wooded area off Richardson Road, near the Hollywood Motel and the Penn Harris Gun Club. The dog might have been dumped there at night, he said.

It’s the first time a dog suspected of being used in dog fighting has been found dead in Lower Swatara. Appleby said that while they have not received any reports of dogfighting in the township, there have been recent efforts to combat dog fighting in Harrisburg. He said because dog fighting is “very underground,” it is difficult to detect.

PennLive reported Feb. 12 that there have been three felony arrests there in the past year, and a two-year state gaming grant totaling $275,000 has provided Harrisburg with funds to pay for billboards and a media campaign to help generate tips against what city spokeswoman Joyce Davis called the “scourge of dog fighting.” About $27,000 will be used on the media campaign.

The Lower Swatara Police Department is working with other agencies on the case. Appleby said he was contacted by a Camp Hill police officer because there was a dead female pitbull found recently, also wrapped up in a blanket. He said it’s too soon to say if the cases are related.

“There’s not a lot of info we have to go on,” he said.

Appleby said that if a resident sees a vehicle pulled to the side of the road and the occupants appear to be dumping something, they should try to get a license plate number — but he stressed only if that can be done safely.

“The public is our best eyes and ears, as always,” he said.

Tips about this case can be left anonymously at 717-558-6900.

The dog of choice for fighting in the United States is the American pit bull terrier, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Estimates suggest that the number of people involved in dog fighting in the United States is in the tens of thousands, according to the ASPCA. Major dog fight raids have resulted in seizures of more than $500,000, and it is not unusual for $20,000 to $30,000 to change hands in a single fight, according to the group.

Signs of dog fighting, according to Humane Society International, include:

• Pit bulls on heavy chains.

• Scars, especially pit bulls.

• Treadmills, which are used as conditioning tools.

• Fighting pits, often with “scratch lines,” which are diagonal lines in the corners where the dogs stay until the fight begins.

• Vitamins, drugs and vet supplies.

• Washtubs.

• Breaking sticks, which are used to pry open a dog’s mouth in order to break up a fight. They are about a foot long, flat on one side, and often bloodstained.

• Springpoles, which condition a dog for fighting by building up his neck and jaw muscles. The dog bites and holds onto the springpole suspended from a beam or sturdy tree.