09/12/2011 11:31 EDT | Updated 11/12/2011 05:12 EST

47 dogs rescued from Halifax fighting rings

A Nova Scotia woman who cares for injured dogs says organized fighting rings exist in the Halifax area and thousands of dollars can change hands during the secret fights.

Gail, whose last name is being withheld to protect her identity, says people concerned about the welfare of the dogs go to fights under the guise of willing spectators, then seize the animals and bring them to her.

"I've had dogs come in with legs hanging off, half their face gone. You name it, it's been done," she told CBC News.

Gail said that over the past five years, she has rehabilitated 47 dogs from fights and adopted them out.

She said thousands of dollars are at stake when spectators bet on the fights.

"It could be like $1,000 up to $10,000 depending on the dog. If it's a dog that has won multiple fights, the purse goes up. It just keeps going up and up and up," said Gail.

She said the fights happen in all parts of the Halifax region — in Spryfield, on the peninsula of Halifax and in North and East Preston.

Neil Fraser, the chief provincial inspector with the Nova Scotia SPCA, said the organization occasionally receives complaints about organized fights but has never been able to witness them in progress.

"It's second- and third-hand information, which makes it difficult to follow up, but we do from time to time receive calls on that," Fraser said.

The fights are difficult to track because they are organized at the last minute through text messages and calls, he said.

"People meet. A fight takes place and it's over within a matter of minutes, which makes it very difficult to investigate," Fraser said.

Neither the Halifax Regional Police nor the RCMP have received complaints in the last few years about dog fights in the Halifax Regional Municipality.

Spectators from 'every spectrum'

Gail said some people connected to the drug world are involved in the dog fights, but they are in the minority.

"You can have businessmen, women, mothers, fathers, they take their kids to them," she said.

"Every spectrum you can think of will go to these fights."

She said she's frustrated authorities don't do more to crack down on the activity and said she'll continue to work with the dogs even if people accuse her of working with stolen animals.

"Sometimes you have to break the law when the law can't help in order to stop the suffering. I have no problem with it. None whatsoever," said Gail.

"If I could myself, I'd be right there myself."