ASPCA and the Humane Society of the United States assisted in a multi-state, federal dogfighting raid across the southern U.S. Hundreds of dogs have been seized in what is believed to be the second-largest dogfighting raid in U.S. history.
After a three-year investigation initiated by the Auburn Police, 13 search warrants were executed Friday morning, Aug. 23, throughout Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Texas. Ten suspects were arrested and indicted on felony dogfighting charges. Federal and local officials also seized firearms and drugs, as well as more than $500,000 in cash from dogfighting gambling activities that took place over the course of the investigation.
The dogs, ranging in age from just several days to 12 years, had been left to suffer in extreme heat with no visible fresh water or food. Many are emaciated with scars and wounds consistent with dogfighting, and some were tethered by chains and cables that were attached to cinder blocks and car tires.
ASPCA and HSUS responders helped manage the removal and transport of the dogs to temporary emergency shelters in undisclosed locations, where responders are providing veterinary care and behavior enrichment. Responders also assisted authorities with collecting forensic evidence to be submitted for prosecution.
Other animal welfare groups assisting with the operation include Florida State Animal Response Coalition and Sumter Disaster Animal Response Team (Bushnell, Fla.); University of Florida (Gainesville); Humane Society of South Mississippi (Gulfport); International Fund for Animal Welfare (Yarmouth Port, Mass.); Asheville Humane Society (Asheville, N.C.); Charleston Animal Society (Charleston, S.C.); Louisiana SPCA (New Orleans); American Humane Association (Washington, D.C.); Greater Birmingham Humane Society (Birmingham, Ala.); Atlanta Humane Society (Atlanta, Ga.); PetSmart Charities (Phoenix, Ariz.); Code 3 Associates (Longmont, Colo.); and Montgomery Humane Society (Montgomery, Ala.).
Dogfighting is a felony in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Earlier this year, the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act was reintroduced in the U.S. Congress, which would make it a federal offense to attend an organized animal fight and impose additional penalties for bringing a minor to a fight. The HSUS and ASPCA support legislation to strengthen the federal and state animal fighting statutes, and regularly assist local, state and federal authorities on dogfighting investigations and raids across the country.
Sources: ASPCA.org and Humane.org