Over the last year, by some estimates, roughly 50 dogs have gone missing in southeastern Manitoba, sparking fears there is a dognapping network at work. And while the RCMP insist there is no evidence to support this claim, locals are becoming increasingly convinced the animals are being used as “bait” dogs to train other dogs to fight.
Many of the dogs disappeared when they were on private property. One resident told the Winnipeg Free Press he found tire tracks and a dog biscuit near his property, but because he had an invisible electric fence, his dog was not lured away. Others have not been so lucky. Last week the skinned remains of a dog were found beside a rural highway propped up in the snow. Owners have formed a Facebook group to share their stories.
But even if police discover the pets were stolen for dogfighting, there may not be much they can do. Under the federal Criminal Code, only those who are shown to be “wilfully neglecting” animals can be charged with animal cruelty. In Manitoba, it is illegal to make animals fight each other, but what constitutes participation in a dogfight isn’t clear, making the crime hard to prosecute.