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Three badly injured pit bull-type dogs have been discovered in St. Paul since late July, leading one rescue group to fear that a dogfighting ring is at work.

St. Paul police and Animal Control aren’t linking the three male dogs to each other or a fighting ring, but a rescuer who lured one of them out of some bushes along Interstate 94 has no doubt about it.

“It’s more than coincidental,” said Natalie Wicker, director of operations for the Retrievers, a nonprofit that recovers stray and lost dogs. “It’s highly unlikely that you would find three dogs in the general area with these types of injuries without it being linked to a fight ring.”

The dogs, all unneutered males, were found within a few miles of each other suffering from lacerations to the face, chest and legs. The first one was found on July 27 in the 1900 block of 4th Street E., the second one was found on Aug. 17 at Indian Mounds Regional Park and the last one was recovered by the Retrievers on Aug. 20 at N. Park Drive and Winthrop Street near Battle Creek Regional Park.

None of the dogs had identification tags or microchips.

St. Paul police spokesman Steve Linders said authorities rarely receive reports about dogfighting in St. Paul, but are investigating any possible connection to that activity.

The first two dogs were recovered and examined by St. Paul Animal Control. Supervisor Molly Lunaris said both dogs were pit-bull types and that neither displayed any behavioral problems. The first dog is being cared for by A Rotta Love Plus rescue group, and the second dog is at the Animal Humane Society.

Lunaris said both dogs had lacerations that appeared to be from bites.

Wicker lured the third dog, named Warrior by another rescue group, Rescued Pets Are Wonderful, with treats.

Warrior had fresh and old puncture wounds all over his face, a stench emanated from an infected ear and one of his ears was ripped in half.

“He was literally shaking in fear and pain,” Wicker said.

Warrior ate treats out of Wicker’s hand, but fled when she tried to slip a leash around his neck. Volunteers corralled and caught him.

“He was immediately the sweetest dog,” Wicker said. “He was calm.”

Warrior was also unneutered, which Wicker and Lunaris said is common among dogs used in fighting rings. Intact males can be bred for profit, and there’s a belief that it also makes them more aggressive because of the testosterone, Lunaris said.

Based on the types of reports Animal Control receives, Lunaris said, dogfighting appears to be rare in St. Paul.

Wicker, however, said it likely happens more than people think.

Anyone with information about any of the three dogs or suspected dogfighting can call Animal Control at 651-266-1100, the police or 911.

It’s unclear whether the dogs will be available for adoption.

Chao Xiong • 612-270-4708

Twitter: @ChaoStrib