367 dogs rescued in the second largest dogfighting raid in US history
367 dogs have been rescued from a dog-fighting ring after a three-year investigation. The rescued pit bulls ranged in ages from just days old to 10 to 12 years old and were found living in terrible conditions at sites in Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia.
The investigation initiated by the Auburn Police, saw search warrants executed on Friday throughout Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Texas. The raid was coordinated between federal, state and local authorities and is believed to be the second-largest dog-fighting raid in U.S. history.
The FBI teamed up with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) to free the dogs from captivity. Many other animal welfare groups assisted in the operation.
One of the 367 dogs rescued. Photo: ASPCA
The dogs were “left to suffer in extreme heat with no visible fresh water or food,” the ASPCA said in a statement. “Many are emaciated with scars and wounds consistent with dog fighting, and some were tethered by chains and cables that were attached to cinder blocks and car tires.”
“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,” the ASPCA said.
One of the rescued dogs receiving medical attention. Photo: HSUS
The dogs were taken to temporary shelters in undisclosed locations for medical attention and behavioral therapy.
U.S. Attorney George L. Beck Jr. did not hold back his anger when he said in a press conference that the “lowest place in hell” are reserved for people who “commit cruelty to our animals and our children.”
"It’s a really sad day to me and the, a sad day of affairs of the state of Alabama to have to even indulge in this type of criminal activity and prosecution," said Beck.
Twelve suspects were arrested on Friday and indicted on felony dog fighting charges. Most of the defendants also are charged with conducting an illegal gambling business. Firearms, drugs and more than $500,000 in cash were also seized during the raids. More individuals may be charged in relation to the bust.
Defendants were betting between $5000 and $200,000 on individual dog fights, authorities said.
"We are committing to eradicating dogfighting in every dark corner where it festers," said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. "This series of raids reminds every dogfighter that they are not beyond the law and their day of reckoning will come."
This video is of U.S. Attorney George L. Beck Jr. at the news announcement.