(WXYZ) Detroit - Late last week, as the snow began to melt in the River Rouge Park, and the first signs of spring began to appear, it was a hellish revelation.
Dozens of dead dogs were found throughout the park and over the weekend, search teams found more.
Nicole Litzelman is with the Detroit animal Welfare Group, or DAWG. She was among those first on the scene.
"We ourselves found three dead ones, when we were heart on Saturday, in addition to the 28 we were informed about last week." said Litzelman.
How the dogs got there and how long they had been there will probably never be known. Litzelman says it appears some may have died after being exposed to the long harsh winter weather, but others showed signs of dog fighting.
Detroit's dog fighting problem goes beyond the 1200 acres at the park, and extends into the neighborhoods.
Animal Care Network volunteer Mindy Richards searches backyards and abandoned homes to help dogs in need. What she has seen over the years is heart breaking.
"I want to cry and vomit most days," said Richards. "We find them hanging, find them with collars stuck in their neck."
Richards takes me into an abandoned house on Kentucky Street, an area known for dog fighting in the past.
We find the remains of a dog. His eyes were gouged out and he was left to rot. One more victim of a dog fight. It happened on a street with neighbors close by, but far too many times they remain silent.
"Nobody is willing to tell because they are not going to beat you and leave you on the side of the road. They are going to kill you. It's no joke. These people protect their dog fighting." said Richards.
For some, dog fighting is a neighborhood past time. But, for others, it's big business.
"We've had dog fought out of this area for over $250,000" said Michigan Humane Society Cruelty Animal Investigator Debby MacDonald.
Michigan has tried to fight the problem with tougher laws, but because dog fighting is so mobile and in some cases impromptu, it's hard to catch people in the act.
For more information or to report dog fighting: www.michiganhumane.org .
Check out the Detroit Animal Welfare Group (DAWG) here: www.dawghous.com