The C.A.S.H. Courier Newsletter

Summer 2013 Issue
Combating the Brutality of Dog Fighting

Interview with Greg Norred

dog fighting
Photo of Greg and another team member, with a three-legged female pit bull rescued from a fighting yard. (Along with 98 more) She had lost her leg in a fight and had been turned into a breeder. They pulled all her teeth. The good news is she was adopted and she now spends her days on a couch watching “Animal Planet.”

The scourge of dog fighting is still running rampant in the U.S. The appalling fact is that heartless people train dogs of various breeds to fight, maim, and kill each other as a sickening form of “sport.” The “trainers” exploit the dogs’ physical prowess and innate need to please their “masters.” Usually, the “training” involves brutal treatment, torture, even starving the dogs, in order to goad them to fight.

This incredibly cruel activity is motivated mostly by money, but there is clearly a blood lust element, too, for how else could people stand by and watch - and “enjoy” - the horror of two innocent dogs tearing each other apart?  This is entertainment?!

Law enforcement officials are usually stretched too thin to be able to seek out and arrest the  heinous individuals who promote andf profit from dog fighting.  Fortunately, some of the slack has been taken up by a valiant group of people from a company based in Atlanta, Georgia, who investigate suspected cases of dog fighting.  They have been providing evidence on perpetrators that helps police get solid convictions.  And the company does it pro bono, even offering a $5000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

This altruistic operation was begun in 2008 by Greg Norred, Founder and CEO of Norred & Associates, Inc., a well respected corporate security firm that provides uniformed safety officers, security consulting, and investigates business fraud.

When asked how he had decided to combat the illegal exploitation of dogs, Greg Norred told us that the notorious Michael Vick case had been a catalyst.  (Vick, a professional football player, was convicted in 2007 of animal cruelty for running a dog-fighting ring.)

Norred’s firm has long had a corporate tip line that allows conscientious employees to report incidents of dishonesty anonymously, so he suggested applying that to animal cruelty issues.  He helped a national animal rescue organization set up their own tip line.

In January of 2008, Norred decided to set up his own independent tip line to help save dogs from the brutality of this activity that goes largely unreported because, in many cases, well-intentioned people fear reprisals.  As the largest and oldest locally owned corporate security firm in Atlanta, Norred & Associates has decades of experience both with investigative techniques and legal considerations. Plus, they are used to dealing cooperatively with law enforcement agencies, so their skills are a good fit for this sensitive, multi-faceted endeavor.
The Norred tip line was in Georgia only at first, but they got busy very quickly. 

“We were inundated,” Norred said.  “There were so many calls, and we realized we had to screen for the genuine ones.” 

The screening was effective, and resulted in carrying out raids on dog fighting facilities on an average of one per month.

Norred says he did not know a lot about animal rescue at first, but he did know how to pursue criminal cases.  In his corporate security work, he had built good relationships with law enforcement agencies.  The campaign against dog fighting is a careful process.  Norred & Associates conducts the investigation, coordinating with police; then 2 –3 investigators and law officers attend each raid, and once the dogs are seized they are handed over to the Atlanta Humane Society.

“We go out and validate the tip and then go to law enforcement and get a search warrant.  We either do a raid at the time of the fight, to catch them in the act, or execute a search warrant and make a case of circumstantial evidence.” 

Evidence can include finding dogs living in terrible situations, badly scarred, starving, and so on.

Norred explained that, as awful as the actual contests between dogs are, their living conditions can be even worse than the fight itself.  The dogs generally live in muddy enclosures, and their collars are so tight they have grown painfully into their flesh.  In many cases they are emaciated because the men prefer that they fight in a lighter weight class.  Often, their owners put the dogs to death in a horrific manner.

“The culture these guys live by is that if your dog refuses to fight or doesn’t do a good enough job in the ring, the owner loses face unless he tortures and kills the dog in front of the other guys.”

Facing the reality of this savagery on a regular basis and fighting to put an end to it is not for the faint of heart.  Most of the investigators work for Norred & Associates, so they are highly experienced professionals.  All the same, there is a big difference between exposing business shenanigans and saving live animals from intense suffering at the hands of dangerous individuals, so the dedication of these people is inspiring. 

Although begun locally, the success of the Norred Team has been considerable, and now they accept tips nationwide.  The team will travel wherever they can to take on the illegal fights.

However, “If we get a tip in upstate NY or Oregon,” Norred said, “unless we know it’s viable we can’t go, so we sometimes hire a local agency and ask them to do preliminary surveillance.”  This work is not inexpensive, so it is essential to keep costs manageable.
Asked if they accept sponsorship, Norred said no, they do not take money from any outside source.  They are completely independent.  

Cooperation from police departments is essential.  In most cases, law enforcement has been willing to assist Norred.  If a less-enlightened officer occasionally says something like, “They’re only dogs,” Greg goes to the local District Attorney.  In one instance, when still nothing happened, he went to CNN with his story, and then action was taken.

“Most of the time law enforcement are great,” Norred declared.  “But if they are reluctant, we can show them how we have made 36 raids so far, and in all the cases, we found involvement with other crimes.”

In every case, dog fighting participants have been into drugs, pornography, or other crimes.  This is an added motivation to local police to take an interest.   

“These are just bad people,” Norred stated.  “They are into all sorts of things besides the illegal dog fighting.”

Norred cites his lifelong love of dogs and other animals as his own driving force.  As dreadful as the other criminal aspects of the perpetrators may be, “We try to stay focussed on the dog fighting.  We stick with the criminal aspect as that is our expertise.” 

Their expertise has paid off with 77 arrests, and 950 dogs rescued so far.  Sadly, a few were so severely damaged they had to be euthanized.  But all the puppies are adopted out and they go quickly.  Rehabilitated dogs are shown on TV in an effort to get them adopted, too, but it is difficult.  Many people are nervous about former fighting dogs, which is understandable.  The tragedy is that these dogs could have and should have had a happy life with a family if they had  not been treated so savagely.  But, as Norred says, “We are in this to shut down dog fighting and that is all we can do.”

Education is an important part of the mission. The Norred Team is training law enforcement agencies on how to conduct dog fighting raids, and also working to get legislation passed.  Publicity helps get the word out to other states.  For example, they were invited recently by a District Attorney to make a raid in Florence, Alabama.  The Sheriff’s office was not sure what to look for at first, but after working with the team they now know what the signs are in these situations and can aggressively and more effectively pursue future cases.

Norred was happy to report that they also have training sessions set up for Florida and Texas.  “We educate them about the other crimes these guys are involved with, such as pedophilia, porn, and drugs.  It really opens their eyes.”

Additionally, they are partnering with the Atlanta Humane Society (no connection to HSUS). The AHS helps with veterinarians and transporting the rescued dogs.  A veterinarian accompanies every raid.  Thus, when people who are eager to help the brave Norred Investigators ask about donating money, Norred says, “We tell people to send donations to the AHS.  I want someone who helps animals to get the money.” [Please earmark contributions for dog fight rescue.]

There is a lot of work still to be done. As Norred told us, “We could make many more raids than we do if there was some type infrastructure set up to care for the dogs afterwards. The problem is, we make a raid and seize the dogs.  The dogs are then evidence and cannot be dealt with until they are released by the court, voluntarily released, or at the conclusion of the court case.  There is no place to house them.  The shelters are full or don’t want to deal with fighting dogs.  Thus, fewer raids because we can’t find temporary housing for up to a year or two.”

As for our readers, the best way we can help is by spreading the word about the evil that is dog fighting, and urging elected representatives to pass stronger legislation with stronger penalties against it. Training and money is needed to fight animal abuse in general. Please visit this website and see what you can do to help stop the cruel mistreatment of these precious dogs: www.helpstopdogfighting.com

Please post their Tip Line as widely as possible: 1-877-215-2250. All calls are absolutely confidential, so anyone who might suspect this atrocity is going on but is afraid to call can report here anonymously.

Ever since they were domesticated millennia ago, dogs have been devoted companions and helpmates to man.  They want only to love and be loved.  We owe it to them to do whatever we can to save them from the brutality that is dog fighting.

dog fighting

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