At the end of last week, 367 dogs were saved from a life of abuse and brutality when a multi-state dogfighting ring was busted in what is now believed to be the second largest bust in U.S. history.
On Friday, 13 search warrants were executed in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Texas following a three-year investigation that was initiated by the the Auburn Police Department in Alabama. The raid resulted in the arrests of ten suspects who were indicted on felony dogfighting charges, in addition to the seizure of $500,000 in cash, drugs, firearms and dogfighting paraphernalia.
In all, the rescue operation involved responders from 16 animal welfare groups — including the ASPCA and HSUS, who were both on the ground at the request of the United States Attorney’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. According to a statement from the HSUS, the conditions were horrendous:
Conditions of the dogs varied, but one veterinarian commented on the large number of dogs who appeared emaciated. In one yard, 114 dogs, the majority tethered to heavy chains, sat in 90 degree heat, scratching at fleas, with no fresh water or food visible anywhere on the property. Some appeared to have no access to water at all, and many exhibited wounds, scars and other conditions consistent with dogfighting.
Makeshift, filthy dog houses―many improvised from plastic and metal barrels and others made of chipboard with rotting wood floors and rusted metal roofing―provided the only shelter in the sweltering heat and humidity.
Some dogs pulled at chains and cables that were tethered to cinder blocks and car tires. A female dog did her best to tend to six puppies, just weeks old, with no food or water, in a pen littered with trash and feces.
The reach of this dogfighting ring shows that despite being illegal in all 50 states, dogfighting is still unfortunately alive and well. However, some involved believe this case will help raise awareness and have a lasting impact on those who continue to betray the trust and devotion of our canine companions by neglecting and torturing them for this insidious bloodsport.
The dogs who survived and were saved from this horror will now get to see the other side of life.
According to the ASPCA, they’ve been moved to emergency shelters at undisclosed locations where they are getting the long overdue love and veterinary care they deserve. Meanwhile, they will need to be held as evidence, but the ultimate goal is to retrain and evaluate them and get them into new homes.
“Today we ended the torture of hundreds of abused and neglected dogs,” said Matt Bershadker, president and CEO of the ASPCA. “Never again will these dogs be forced to fight, live in squalor, or be neglected and deprived of the bare necessities. The ASPCA is extremely grateful to federal and local authorities who pursued this widespread investigation for so long, and we are happy to lend our assistance.”
While there are current laws on the books to deal with those who directly participate in dogfighting, loopholes still exist that don’t deal with spectators. Those who attend dogfights, and other animal bloodsports, help enable and fuel this barbaric underground industry and perpetuate other illegal activities.
The Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act was reintroduced and will amend current laws to make knowingly attending an animal fight punishable by fines and up to one year in prison, with fines and up to three years in prison for bringing a minor.
Please sign and share the petition supporting this important piece of legislation.
For updates on this rescue operation, visit aspcarescue.org.
Photo credit: Thinkstock