Tuesday, May 19, 2020 (Kalamazoo, MI) - Kalamazoo County Animal Services & Enforcement officer Keith Myers viewed evidence of suspected dogfighting during a visit to a home in the 400 block of E Frank Street on Saturday, May 16. Myers was alerted to possible dogfighting while following up on a lead provided by Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety about barking dogs at the residence.
Kalamazoo County Animal Services & Enforcement (KCASE), along with Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety (KDPS) officers executed the search warrant. They received assistance from a forensics detective from KDPS and the Kalamazoo Humane Society (KHS). It is not uncommon for departments to share resources to investigate suspected dogfighting.
Dogs, roosters, and hens were found in deplorable conditions in the backyard of the property, as well as more dogs inside the home. In total, ten pit bull-type dogs were removed, which is well above the allowable limit of up to 3 dogs per household in the city. Other physical evidence and dogfighting equipment were removed from the property. It is unclear if the birds are part of the suspected animal fighting activity. No arrests were made on the scene, and the investigation remains active. Criminal charges are expected to be filed in connection with this case by KCASE.
KCASE officers have received specialized training and certifications specific to dogfighting. In 2012, KCASE officers and multiple assisting agencies successfully investigated and prosecuted four known dogfighters. Samuel Steel III of Kalamazoo, a fifth suspect, had dogfighting charges dropped after being found guilty of a murder in the city of Kalamazoo. He is currently serving life in prison.
In the state of Michigan, dogfighting is a felony with a penalty of up to four years in prison, community service of 500-1000 hours, and possible fines of $5,000 to $50,000. The dogfighting statute, MCL 750.49, includes several potential violations aside from the act of fighting. These include owning, possessing, breeding, and selling dogs and equipment for fighting and baiting, as well as other activities commonly associated with the crime of dogfighting.
The Kalamazoo Humane Society was invited to this investigation to offer assistance wherever needed. We have experience assisting in dogfighting investigations. Working closely with Kalamazoo County Animal Services and other area animal welfare agencies, we can accomplish more for animals.
You can help!
Dogfighting can happen anywhere, and it IS happening right here in Kalamazoo and throughout southwest Michigan. You can make a difference by learning to recognize the signs of possible dogfighting, and alerting local animal law enforcement for investigation.
Do report a large number of dogs, excessive barking from multiple dogs (inside and outside of the home), and dogs outside without adequate shelter, food or water.
Do report dogs coming and going, or frequent visitors with dogs, especially if they are bully breeds or pit bull type dogs
Do donate pet food and basic supplies to your local shelter when they ask the community for help.
Do NOT assume that all pit bulls are bad dogs, or that people with pit bulls are fighting dogs just because the dogs are pit bulls
Do NOT try to file a report with no basis other than the breed of the dogs.
Do NOT ignore the signs of dog fighting, or refuse to believe it's happening in your community. It is here - we need to end it.
This video was published by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) after the 2012 Dogfigthing raids in Kalamazoo, leading to charges against five Kalamazoo dogfighters.
For more information about dogfighting, check out this fact sheet from the HSUS: