Indy Among Top Cities For Dogfighting

Protesters Expected Downtown When Eagles Play

Indianapolis ranks among the top cities in the country for dogfighting, despite efforts by authorities to curtail the illegal activity.

Protesters were expected in downtown Thursday evening when Michael Vick's new team, the Philadelphia Eagles, take on the Colts, although Vick was not expected to attend the preseason contest.

The fallen NFL star was just released from prison after serving time for orchestrating a dogfighting ring.

Authorities who have long combated the problem of dogfighting, said Vick's conviction has helped put the crime back in the public consciousness, 6News' Renee Jameson reported.

"The number of raids on dogfighting operations has doubled since the Vick case. The number of new laws is 26, including both state and federal, including a new law in Indiana, which makes it a felony to be a spectator in an animal fight," said John Goodwin with the Humane Society of the United States.

Indianapolis ranks among the top five cities in the country for dogfighting, which authorities attribute to its central location.

Indianapolis Animal Care and Control launched an Animal Cruelty Task Force two years ago and have since uncovered dogfighting rings in the city, officials said.

"Everything is so secretive. The only way to catch them is actually in the act," said lead investigator Lt. Jerry Bippus. "You got your other crimes to go along with it. You've got your drug dealing. You've got your weapons. And then you have gambling. That's what dogfighting is. It's all about the gambling."

Bippus said puppies bred from dogfighting champions can fetch up to $20,000.

Authorities said if people suspect dogfighting they should look for ownership of several dogs, tires or other items suspended from trees to provide jaw-strengthening activities and a treadmill, used to train dogs for fighting.

Police said tips generated through Crime Stoppers have helped their investigations. Anyone who suspects dogfighting is asked to call 317-262-TIPS.