'Trunking' could soon become first-degree felony

Commissioner seeks legislation to stop form of animal abuse

MIAMI - A brutal form of dog fighting is starting to become a trend in South Florida neighborhoods. Investigators know it's happening, but they are having a difficult time stopping it.

The scars on the dog's face tell the story of where he's been -- locked in the dark trunk of a car with another fighting dog. Both are given two choices: attack and kill, or die trying.

"It's absurd. It's one of the most absurd ridiculous things I've ever heard," said Franco Sicheri of Balance Paws.

Miami-Dade Animal Services pulled several dogs and puppies out of a backyard in Goulds after an anonymous caller told investigators about the dog fighting -- specifically the barbaric animal abuse called trunking.

"They're just stuffing dogs in the trunk allowing them to kill each other," Sicheri said.

By the time officers rescued the pups, some were bleeding, others had broken bones and scars covering their faces and bodies.

Local 10 showed one of the neighbors a picture of one of the most injured dogs -- one with a hole in his face.

"Oh, that's Donnie," said Naida, who would not give us her last name. "Yes, that Donnie. Oh, my God," she said when told how the dog had gotten injured.

Naida said she's afraid for her lift, and because of that, wouldn't give information about her neighbor. But she did say she heard the dogs fighting.

Everyone else Local 10 spoke with denied knowing anything.

"There wasn't no dog fighting," said one man behind closed doors.

"So what happened to them?" Local 10 asked.

"I don't know," he said.

The world of trunking is so secretive and so hard to detect, not a single person in Miami-Dade County has been convicted of the crime. That's because it's impossible to notice two dogs fighting in a trunk when the music is blaring from the car's speakers.

Dahlia Canes of the Miami Coalition Against Breed Specific Legislation is a dog expert. She says the signs of trunking are subtle, but visible in the dogs who have been used for this abusive practice.

"They're a little bit shy of people because of the way you put the dogs in the trunk and shut them in the dark," she said.

Some dogs automatically tense up around other dogs.

Canes says it isn't natural behavior for this breed.

"Even this dog in particular," says Sicheri regarding one of the abused dogs, "He isn't a mean dog. He's actually scared of other dogs."

And that is perhaps the most heartbreaking part of it all.

"You're so happy," says the veterinarian as she holds down a dog to clean his open wounds, the dog's tail wagging the entire time.

It's proof that even after all of the abuse they've endured, these dogs are desperate for love.

Miami-Dade Commissioner Jose Pepe Diaz is working on legislation that would make trunking a first-degree felony -- on par with murder. Diaz says that if a person can abuse a dog, they can easily do the same to a human being.

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