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Trainer urges pet owners to stay vigilant after dog fighting found in Idaho

By Katherine Mozzone, KTVM Reporter, kmozzone@ktvm.com
Published On: Apr 09 2013 07:09:51 PM MDT
Updated On: Apr 09 2013 08:28:45 PM MDT
BELGRADE, Mont. -

Ron Murray loves dogs and each one that walks through his kennel is treated like one of his own.

"It's a blast, it's so much fun," says Murray.

It's why, when he started hearing from clients that dogs in the area were disappearing, he was determined to find out why.

"I called three local vets, all of them reported the same thing -- between February and now, six to 10 dogs disappearing," says Murray.

He tells me it's not unusual for dogs to go missing but says they usually turn up, not these dogs. Murray says he talked to folks in Twin Falls, Idaho, and found a similar trend but on a much larger scale -- 70 dogs in 40 days.

"Kind of got us trying to put together the dots," says Murray.

Now, after learning of a dog fighting ring in eastern Idaho, he's worried local dogs might be at risk.

"It got us really concerned because Bozeman, according to a half-dozen magazines out there, we are the second most dog-friendly city in the United States behind Portland, Oregon, and if you're going to do dog criminal activity, this is a great place to look," says Murray.

It's not just pit bull owners he says should be on the lookout.

"Somebody has a corgi and they're like, 'I don't have have to worry about my dog going to that.' That's a great dog for these fighting places to catch because they can use them as bait dogs," explains Murray.

I stopped at the Belgrade Police Department to see what detectives there know about dog fighting and what folks can do to keep their pets safe.

"It's never been a problem locally but as with any crime trend, we see some of the overflow in the more rural areas and we see some of these crime trends migrate to more rural areas," explains Sgt. Dustin Lensing with the Belgrade Police Department.

Lensing tells me he hasn't seen reports of dog thefts on a large scale but say the potential is always there.

"I've heard of dog fighting rings in Boise, Spokane, other places that are in a half-state drive of here," says Lensing.

That's why he says it's important to take precautions -- Murray did.

"I'm not going to not have my dogs outside but I'm taking precautions and now I have 'this property is under video surveillance' signs," says Murray. He also installed a video surveillance system at his business.

Lensing suggests folks know where their pets are.

License your dog with the city, keep it collared and tagged in a fenced in yard. Micro-chips are also a good idea and always lock your home and your car.

He also says a watchful neighbor is a good neighbor and it's not a bad idea to talk with your neighbors and express your concerns.