We've been warned. Dogs are being stolen in New Mexico and possibly used in dogfighting rings. It's frightening to think it could happen to your beloved pet.
What happens inside these dog rings is something that needs to be exposed, so KOB got the inside story from a man who says he was involved in the high-stakes world of dogfighting for years.
"The guys doing it…is your everyday guys. I know businessmen that are doing it," said the man, who will remain anonymous. "They put on a suit and tie during the day, and then at night, they're out there on the treadmills with their dogs."
He was one of them.
The man didn't want to show his face, but he did want to bring us inside the world of dogfighting and wanted to make it clear that he no longer takes part in it.
"I just came forward because I, I don't believe that all the little dogs are missing because of pit bull baiting or what that's all about," he said.
Baiting is the practice of using a helpless dog to give a fighting dog a chance to train.
But the man said that isn't what he has seen.
"You can't teach a pit bull how to fight," he said. "Any dog man would say that's animal cruelty."
He calls himself a "dog man," and says all the guys in the dogfighting ring he knew are also "dog men."
They live their lives breeding purebred pit bulls – AKC certified – and placing them in fights for big-time profits.
"We probably won about $50,000 in the life of the dog," he said. "I think the last fight we went to was $6,500 and we walked away with $13,000. That's just on one fight."
Dogs train for several months before a fight.
The man says "training" means a lot of cardio to build up their endurance. He says you don't train a pit bull to fight because they're bred that way.
Owners don't clip the ears or tail because those are non-lethal targets they want the other dog to bite.
The dogs weigh between 20 and 40 pounds, and like wrestlers and boxers, have a weigh-in the day of the fight.
They wash the opponent's dog to be sure there's no poison or acid on their skin for an advantage, and then, the fight starts.
They can last for hours.
As long as the dogs are in what's called a "hold" – biting each other – the fight continues. When one dog finally stops trying, the fight is declared over.
"I have never seen a dog die in the ring," the man said. "Most of the guys there will have a staple gun – the vet staple gun – and they'll staple them right up.
He says owners also have IV bags from vets to hook the dogs up to after a fight.
But how could a "dog man" ever be involved in such a brutal game?
"I didn't think I was hurting people, so that's why I got into it," he said. "We've never used any kind of other dog other than a pit bull whenever we did anything."
Organizations like Animal Humane New Mexico say the dogfighting they know and see evidence of is much different, and say no breed of dog is safe.
"Sometimes they'll come in with ground-down teeth, broken teeth," said Rex Nowacki, with Animal Humane. He is tasked with the nearly-impossible task of re-socializing those dogs so they can be adopted.
He says they do see bait dogs and the horrific evidence of what they've been through.
"Anytime you hear or see an animal that has been hurt or mistreated, it's absolutely heartbreaking," Nowacki said.
We know there are several different types of dogfighting – some sophisticated, some quick and dirty street fights.
But make no mistake – it's all animal cruelty and it's all illegal.