ARTESIA, N.M. (KRQE) - A pit bull found mutilated was likely used as bait to train dogs for fighting, and now detectives are looking for the culprits.
The dog's eyes were swollen shut, his face badly bitten. The tell-tale sign a male pit pull was used as a target for violence was that one of his hind legs had been cut off, according to police.
"It's not mangled like it got caught in a tractor or something, but it's definitely cut off," said Sgt. Lindell Smith of the Artesia Police Department.
"I think they cut off his foot to make him weak," added Cindy Perini, president of Paws & Claws Humane Society. "They knocked out his teeth, they withheld food, and they tried to make him as weak as possible, which is the idea behind the bait dog,
"They want them to lose."
The dog was found two weeks ago in Artesia. Police said the 1-year-old pit they now named Amato was likely used to train fighting dogs.
When the dog was found, he was wandering the area around 12th Street and Washington Avenue, a place police believe may not be far from where he escaped.
Amato was immediately taken to a vet and treated for his injuries. Now, police are working to find who is behind this.
"For us to say that, 'Oh, we don't have any dog fighting rings here in Artesia or the surrounding area, or southeastern New Mexico,' is just us burying our heads in the sand and trying to pretend like something doesn't happen," Smith said.
Smith added crimes surrounding dogfighting rings can include gambling, drug use, underage drinking, prostitution and child abuse.
For what he's been through, those helping Amato heal say he's remarkably lovable with dogs and humans.
"It just is such a testament to the dog's general resilient spirit, that in spite of having been so abused by people and other dogs, he loves us all the same and is so sweet," said Perini.
When Perini reached out to rescue shelters, it was Evergreen Animal Protection League in Evergreen, Colo., that immediately agreed to take Amato.
Pilots N Paws arranged for a ride in a private plane to Colorado where Amato will continue recovering.
"I think everyone that came into contact with him along the transport was teary-eyed when he left because he had just touched their hearts," said Perini.
Many of his scars will remain, but Amato is on his way to getting a second chance at life.
Amato is currently in a Colorado foster home and will undergo surgery on his maimed leg before being fitted for a prosthetic foot. Perini said he'll definitely be adoptable.
Police ask anyone with information surrounding these crimes to call the Eddy County Regional Emergency Dispatch Authority at (575) 616-7155. Callers can remain do not have to give their names.
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