Saturday, April 5, 2014

ASPCA assists in dog fighting bust in Milwaukee, 23 dogs seized

This week, the ASPCA assisted the Milwaukee Police Department and the District Attorney of Milwaukee County with a multi-site dog fighting raid. Law enforcement authorities broke up the dogfighting ring that involved at least 23 dogs and arrested 13 people Thursday in pre-dawn raids across the city.

Eight search warrants were executed at eight crime scenes, where 23 suspected fighting dogs were seized. Investigators also discovered blood on basement walls as well as other evidence of dog fighting, including treadmills, wound treatment supplies and muscle building supplements.

The defendants are accused of breeding and training pit bulls for fighting, or accused of arranging the matches. One suspect hosted competitions in a basement splattered with dog blood and the fresh corpse of a bloody dog was found buried in his backyard, prosecutors said.

The arrests wrapped up a year-long investigation by prosecutors, police and an animal welfare group. Kent Lovern, a Milwaukee County prosecutor, said the investigation began in 2011 after authorities recovered more than a dozen dogs from a suspected dogfighting operation.

"That started an investigation into some individuals that has expanded to include other individuals," including some arrested today, he told the Associated Press. Their arrests might yield even more leads, he added.

Experts from the ASPCA Field Investigations & Response (FIR) team were on hand to assist with evidence collection and documentation. The ASPCA has been assisting local authorities with this dog fighting investigation for nearly a year.

The 22 living dogs that were recovered are being evaluated and given medical treatment. Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Commission is sheltering and caring for the dogs.

Tim Rickey, a spokesman for the ASPCA, said each dog would be evaluated on an individual basis. He said in his experience, some fighting dogs can be placed with very little concern, while others require much more intensive rehabilitation. Some can never be adopted.

Even if the dogs can be rehabilitated, Wisconsin law prevents the placing of fighting dogs while the investigations are pending because the animals are considered evidence.

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