Harrisburg gets $300K to stop dog fighting, gambling

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HARRISBURG, Pa. -- The City of Harrisburg has a problem with dog fighting. Now, they'll have the resources to do something about it.

On Tuesday, Harrisburg City Council approved a $300,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. The money is designated for the City of Harrisburg and Harrisburg Humane Society "in order to prevent, investigate, and prosecute unlawful gambling," according the city's resolution.

The "unlawful gambling" centers around dog fighting, which city officials and the humane society say exists within the city and surrounding municipalities. The city and humane society have been unable to investigate these dog fighting rings and illegal gambling which takes place there with the amount of time and energy needed due to lack of resources. They hope the money gained from the gaming commission's grant will allow them to follow up on their leads.

"There is lots of chatter, we just can't investigate," Amy Kaunas, Director of the Harrisburg Humane Society, said. "(The grant money) is really going to help us and the city assess the depth and the breath of this issue."

Kaunas says the biggest indicator of the region's dog fighting problem are the number of pit bulls which arrive at the humane society;  "Hundreds," she says. Some of them arrive with injuries clearly indicative of a dog fight, while others show signs of extra aggression towards other dogs.

"That's the biggest red flag," Kaunas said.

The grant will allow for $160,572.48 in spending in 2015-16, and $136,842.18 in 2016-17. Money budgeted for the city and humane society includes hiring an animal control officer, extra training, public outreach and education, investigative overtime, and a humane police officer.

"In Harrisburg, we are very serious about this," city councilman Brad Koplinski said. "Dog fighting brings more than just a concern for dogs. It brings gambling, guns, drugs, and other elements of crime."

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