The multiagency roundup took place Aug. 23 in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Texas. It included the arrests of 10 people and the seizure of 367 dogs.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Humane Society of the United States participated in the raids at the request of the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office and assisted with the dogs’ removal.
The operation capped a three-year federal investigation that also netted firearms, drugs and more than $500,000.
“These defendants were betting between $5,000 and $20,000 on one dog fight,” said U.S. Attorney George L. Beck Jr. “The number of dogs seized and the amount money involved in this case shows how extensive this underworld of dogfighting is.”
The dogs range in age from newborn to 12 years old. Some were found dead at the properties where the animals were kept and allegedly fought.
If convicted, the defendants face up to five years in prison.
“Today we ended the torture of hundreds of abused and neglected dogs,” says Matt Bershadker, ASPCA’s president and CEO. “Never again will these dogs be forced to fight, live in squalor or be neglected and deprived of the bare necessities.”
The takedown of the largest dogfighting ring occurred in July 2009, when more than 500 dogs were recovered in eight states and more than 100 people arrested.
By comparison, about 50 dogs were confiscated in 2007 in the infamous case involving professional football player Michael Vick and his Bad Newz Kennels operation.
ASPCA and HSUS responders took the dogs seized last week to emergency shelters for veterinary care and behavior enrichment. Both organizations also are collecting forensic evidence.