The C.A.S.H. Courier Newsletter
Combating the Brutality of Dog Fighting
Interview with Greg Norred
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.”
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?!
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.
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
Evidence can include finding dogs living
in terrible situations, badly scarred, starving, and so on.
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.
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
“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
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.
Go on to Ambush Killing
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