I-Team Investigation: Black Market Dog Breeders Part II - 8 News NOW

George Knapp, Chief Investigative Reporter

I-Team Investigation: Black Market Dog Breeders Part II

Posted: Updated:
Officer Jimenez Officer Jimenez

Animal welfare experts say local shelters are overwhelmed by the number of pit bulls that have flooded Las Vegas streets. These unwanted dogs are pumped out by backyard breeders who charge plenty for pit bull pups. It's a black market business that's bad for the public in many ways, but even worse for the dogs themselves.

Ideas for Resolving Pit Bull Overpopulation

Wicked from Da West, he calls himself. From his hip hop fueled web site, filled with colorful characters, it certainly appears he's in the business of selling pit bulls, or as wicked calls them, his money makers. His site features photos of pits and pups, along with a price list. 

The Eyewitness News I-Team tried to meet Wicked to see his merchandise, but he grew suspicious and backed out. Other backyard breeders weren't as cautious. Calvin lives in North Las Vegas but told us to meet him in a parking lot if we wanted to see his pups. He had two in the car and more at home.

Calvin said, "So I'll just bring the other two if you want to see them."

Breeders like Calvin sell pups from their cars because they don't want customers to know where they live. Why? It's illegal to breed and sell pit bulls or any other dogs without a permit.

Still, the daily newspaper carries dozens of ads every day from vendors who don't cite a license number. It's big money for the advertiser and for the breeders. Pit bull litters are large. Some pups can sell for $2,000 or more. Savvy backyard breeders like Wicked know how to appeal to the gansta element that has made the pit bull the dog of choice on the streets, according to animal control officers.

BLOG Your Thoughts On Black Market Pit Bull Breeders

Henry Jimenez of Las Vegas Animal Control said, "Pit bull fighting we see now. Like kids trying to prove themselves to their fellow gang members or something, like they have a bad dog."

Most of the webs sites post obligatory disclaimers discouraging dog fighting, while at the same time bragging how game their dogs are, how large the heads are, how thick the bones. Dog dealers with little or no knowledge are changing the genetics of the pit bull breed.

Floyd Womble of Las Vegas Animal Control said, "You're looking at animals that used to be 40 pounds. They're getting closer to 80-100 pounds just because of backyard breeders."

And when these massive franken-dogs are also trained from birth to be mean, sometimes by using cats or older weaker dogs as bait, their temperament can change as well. Brandi and Lisa run a rescue operation called Bully Buddies. They say what other owners say -- that pit bulls are, by nature, loyal and loving dogs, but they are morphing into something else because of breeders and owners.

"They're not worried about genetic things or any kind of problems, temperament wise, health wise at all. They generally throw two dogs together to try and get a litter of puppies for money," said Brandi.

"Even though they were never bred to be aggressive, with the genetic crossing, they can be aggressive," said Lisa.

And many clearly are. Pit bull attacks have become a staple of T.V. news. Dogs that have been gentle pets suddenly snap. People and other animals become targets. The backyard breeders don't care what happens after a sale. When the dogs get hard to handle, they're dumped.

"For every pit bull that's bred, that's a pit bull dying in the shelter," said Brandi. "For every litter that's bred, maybe one dog out of an eight-dog litter is going to find a permanent home."

"We see so many of them, and this is the toughest part, simply roaming the streets, picked up off the street. Who knows what's going to happen. It's a dog that's capable of inflicting serious injury," said Mark Fierro of Lied Animal Shelter.

At any given time, half of the animals in the Lied Shelter are pit bulls or pit mixes. Most are unadoptable so they are put down. They come in torn to pieces from fighting and deformed from inbreeding in someone's backyard.

"So inbred their mouths are misshapen. It's difficult for them to eat. Noses connected to their mouths. They have no upper palate. It's a terrible, terrible thing," said Fierro.

But not so terrible for the breeders who keep pumping out more.

Eyewitness News received phone calls from the dog breeder known as Wicked from Da West, and from his mother, telling us that Wicked is an honest family man but declining to speak to us further. Since our story aired last night, Wicked's web site has removed all references to pit bulls.

How can the pit bull problem be resolved? The most obvious answer is -- don't buy dogs from unlicensed breeders.

Click here for other long term ideas.

Email your comments to Chief Investigative Reporter George Knapp.

Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and KLAS. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.