Happy National Dog Day: Joint task-force busts second largest dog-fighting ring in U.S. history
On National Dog Day, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) announced that they had assisted the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in rescuing 367 dogs in Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi in what government officials believe is the second-largest dog-fighting bust in U.S. history.
“This is a great example of federal, state, and local agencies working together to make communities safer,” said Paul Register, Auburn Police Division Chief, in a statement. “It is not just about the egregious act of dog fighting itself, but the other criminal activity that is affiliated with it.”
On August 23, law enforcement agencies in the states simultaneously executed 13 search warrants. Ten suspects were arrested on charges of felony dog-fighting. Firearms, drugs, and $500,000 in proceeds from gambling on dog-fighting were also seized from the properties, some of which contained the remains of dogs who are believed to have died as a result of fighting or neglect.
“These defendants were betting between $5,000 and $200,000 on one dog fight,” stated U.S. Attorney George L. Beck, Jr. “The number of dogs seized and the amount of money involved this in case shows how extensive this underworld of dog fighting is. These dog fighters abuse, starve and kill their dogs for the supposed ‘fun’ of watching and gambling on a dog fight. Their behavior is deplorable, will not be tolerated, and will be punished to the full extent of the law.”
Both the ASPCA and HSUS helped federal officials collect forensic evidence, both from the dogs and the compounds in which they were housed. One yard contained 114 dogs, most of which were chained outside in the summer heat without access to water or food. Many appeared emaciated, and all but the youngest — only a few days old — presented scars consistent with having been trained or forced to participate in dog-fights.
“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.”
Video of dogs being rescued by a similar joint effort last year can be found here: