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ST. LOUIS – Animal rescuers believe there’s new evidence of dog fighting in St. Louis.

They’re hoping to save a dog covered in scars that can’t be “explained away”.

Buster, estimated to be 3-years-old, is now getting emergency vet care.

The medical team suspects Buster has been used as “bait” to train dogs to fight or rile them up for battle, said Mandy Ryan, of the Missouri K9 Friends rescue.

Buster is walking again with the help of a sling to keep the weight off his wounded back leg.  His front legs are wounded, too.  His face is covered with scars.  He’s very sick from infections, heartworms, and malnutrition.  He weighs about 50 pounds when he should weigh closer to 80.

The most glaring evidence that he’s been used as bait for is inside his mouth.

“A few of his teeth have been pulled out.  Some of them are infected like they were attempted to be pulled out or filed…see how that tooth has missing chunks on it,” Ryan said, pointing to Buster’s missing and broken teeth.  “The people who do this to dogs, they pull their teeth out or file them down so they can’t fight back.”

A man found buster Saturday evening in alley near Shreve and Farlin in North St. Louis.

He told Fox 2/News 11 he tends to stray cats there and noticed Buster; Buster hobbled right to him when called.

St. Louis Police have had no reports of dog fighting in the area.

It’d be shocking if they did, Ryan said.

“It’s very much underground.  It’s very hidden.  Buster is extremely lucky that he got found…he never has to worry about abuse anymore.  He’s going to get spoiled and loved … he’s definitely a sweetheart,” Ryan said.

Buster’s recovery is expected to take months.

There’s hope that maybe he’ll make a great holiday gift for someone.

The Missouri K9 Friends  rescue also hopes anyone with information about dog fighting in St. Louis will come forward.