HARTSVILLE, SC (WMBF) - Three of the same breed of pit bull have been reported missing in the city of Hartsville over the last month.
They are referred to as "blue pits," and the owners think their dogs could be victims of an active dog fighting ring across the Pee Dee.
All three dogs were taken right from their homes in the city of Hartsville. Now, a county-wide effort is under way to find the missing dogs, with the Darlington County Sheriff's Office and the Humane Society taking the lead, along with assistance from agencies in Marlboro, Chesterfield and Lee counties.
Darlington County Sheriff Sheriff Wayne Byrd said they have received many tips and his investigators are working on the cases. He added a dog fighting ring isn't something one just stumbles upon; it requires undercover searches.
"That's a whole other level above and beyond just cruelty," Byrd said. "Cruelty by itself is bad enough, but when you start baiting dogs and fighting dogs that takes it to a whole different level."
One-year-old, 90-pound Biggs was taken from his home almost a month ago. His owner, Margot Rogers, said she has been putting up flyers ever since.
"I wake up every morning because he sleeps in the bed with me and that does bring tears to my eyes," Rogers said. "And I wake up and he's not there. It just makes me sick to think he's in the wrong hands. You know, we all want to take down the people who do these things to animals."
With recent animal cruelty stories in Marlboro, and Chesterfield counties, the agencies want to create a task force to receive tips and help track down the possible fighting ring.
Rogers believed there is a stereotype with pit bulls that indicates they are going to be great fighters.When it comes to her dog, she said that isn't the case.
"Some people argue that's what pit bulls are bred for, but I can argue that if you see him on Facebook, if you see anything he loves kittens, he loves other animals, he listens. He is a good boy," Rogers said.
Roger's advice is to pet owners is to be aware of their surroundings when the dogs are at home.
"I never felt like I let him down as a dog owner or that I was a bad owner, but it goes to show it can happen to anybody," she said.
A $3,000 reward has been put up by Rogers and the Humane Society of the United States to anyone who brings Biggs back safe. A Go Fund Me site has also been established. Click here to donate.
A Facebook page has been dedicated to raising awareness of dog fighting locally and create an additional avenue for people to report activity in their community.
Anyone with information about the missing dogs or possible dog fighting rings is asked to contact the Darlington County Sheriff's Office.