367 lives saved

It’s been just over two weeks since 367 lives were saved in a multi-state raid in the United States, the second-largest dog fighting raid in U.S. history.

Photo by the ASPCA

Photo by the ASPCA

The Humane Society of the United States and the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®), called in by the United States Attorney’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), assisted in seizing 367 dogs in Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia.

‘The lowest places in hell would be reserved for those who commit cruelty to our animals’  George Beck, U S Attorney, Middle District of Columbia

Dogs were found in appalling living conditions, with little shelter from the area’s sweltering summer temperatures.

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. Remains of dead animals were also discovered on some properties where dogs were housed and allegedly fought. If convicted, defendants could face up to five years in prison, as well as fines and restitution.

The dogs, which ranged in age from days-old puppies to 12-13 years, are now receiving medical care and are being assessed for adoptive homes.

These videos show the condition of some of the dogs that were seized during the raid as well as the living conditions they were found in:

The rescue was the result of many agencies working together.  Agencies assisting the ASPCA and the HSUS with the operation included the 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.), Montgomery Humane Society (Montgomery, Ala.), and Dr. Melinda Merck.

Tim Rickey, Vice President of the ASPCA’s Field Investigations & Response Team, participated in the raids and has commented on the realities of dogfighting:

When I first walked on the property, I stared across the yard and saw more than 100 dogs, most of them tied to heavy log chains, anchored to dilapidated dog houses. The dogs ranged from old to young, living on a worn dirt ring that likely had seen generations of dogs come and go to a sad fate.

Most were chained nose-to-nose to their neighbors to ensure continuous arousal.

This cycle begins with being chained at such an early age with little to no positive human or animal interaction. The burden continues with heavy chains, often with additional weights, to drag around their entire lives. The constant noise, arousal and anxiousness push them towards aggression to or from their yard mates. If they don’t respond, their life may end quickly, but if they do, they have sealed their fate of a long, torturous life.

Their only reprieve from the chain is death or brief release to be tested against another dog, eventually going back to the chain with little attention to their wounds. What follows is weeks of intense training and significant human interaction with the person who will commit the ultimate betrayal and force them into a barbaric battle for entertainment and profit. If they survive, they go back again to the chain: A vicious cycle that could go on for years until these dogs finally have no value or fight left in them and are discarded.

Donations to support the care and rehabilitation of these dogs, to any of the organisations involved, will be gratefully accepted.

Sources:

HSUS media statement

ASPCA media statement

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