Rumours of dog fighting rings around Central Alberta are spreading like wildfire, after several online ads were posted claiming dogs have disappeared without a trace.
Several ads on Red Deer's Kijiji site claim culprits are nabbing dogs from yards in the Red Deer, Sylvan Lake and Innisfail areas.
"There are some really sick individuals out there stealing dogs and possibly (Probably) getting them from the FREE site here on Kijii to use them in DOG FIGHTS," one ad posted Monday read.
The ad also warns against giving away dogs for free, claiming dogfight organizers may pick up puppies with the purpose of training them to fight.
However, according to the Calgary Herald, there is little concrete evidence that such nefarious activities are taking place.
“We haven’t as yet received any actionable calls," Ronald Lines, spokesman with Alberta SPCA, told the Herald.
"Nothing specific enough for us to investigate. It is, at this point, just rumour and hearsay,” he said.
Town of Sylvan Lake spokesperson Joanne Gaudet told the Herald rumours of dead and mutilated dogs being found in ditches just isn't true, and that perhaps dogs are being hurt by coyotes or negligent owners.
Melanie Crehan, who oversees operations at the Sylvan Lake and Area Serenity Pet Shelter, told CBC Edmonton that she doesn't believe the missing dogs were attacked by animals, but rather taken for dog fighting.
She told the Herald people have contacted her about properties in rural Alberta where dog fighting rings have been set up. She said she has also heard from people whose dogs have been lured onto tarps and then wrapped up and taken away in trucks.
“The thought of what’s happening to those dogs is sickening. Keeps me awake lots of nights,” she told CBC.
“I wish there could be an end to it. But we have very little hard information to go on because people seem to be fearful.”
Jessica Nagorski of the Hope Lives Here Animal Rescue Society told the Red Deer Advocate she has heard of abnormally large numbers of large-breed dogs missing in recent months.
She hopes dog owners are attentive and document suspected abuses.
"Apparently there have been a great many dogs gone missing in this area all the way east to Sylvan Lake. Some of the dogs have been "returned" (dumped) on Hwy 11 between Rocky and Hwy 22 or slightly east. These dogs were badly beaten up," the shelter posted on their Facebook page earlier this month.
Similar rumours spread in Edmonton in 2011, after a pit bull attacked a smaller dog. The owner of the smaller dog said neighbours had told her the pit bull had previously killed other animals and was a fighting dog.
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