On Friday, federal and local law enforcement agents performed what is being called the largest dog-fighting raid in the South's history, seizing 367 dogs in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and Texas. The Charleston Animal Society joined animal welfare groups around the country in helping with the effort.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the raid was the conclusion of a three-year investigation begun by police in Auburn, Ala. Ten suspects were arrested on felony dog fighting charges, and officials seized firearms, drugs, and more than $500,000 in cash that allegedly came from dog fight gambling. If convicted, the defendants could face up to five years in prison or pay fines and restitution.
A press release from the Charleston Animal Society says that responders from the local nonprofit organization helped collect forensic evidence and helped with the removal of dogs to emergency shelters in undisclosed locations. The release states that the dogs' living conditions varied, but an ASPCA veterinarian commented that many of the dogs looked emaciated. The release goes on to give a description of a particularly egregious case:
One yard contained 114 dogs sitting in 90 degree heat, scratching at fleas, with no apparent access to fresh water or food visible. The majority of the dogs were tethered down by chains. Many exhibited wounds, scars and other conditions consistent with dog fighting. Makeshift, filthy dog houses—many improvised from plastic and metal barrels and others made of chipboard with rotting wood floors and rusted metal roofing—provided the only shelter in the sweltering heat and humidity. A mother dog did her best to tend to her litter of six puppies in a feces-littered pen with no food or water.
A press release from the ASPCA states that the U.S. Attorney's Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Human Society of the United States, and 13 local animal welfare groups from Phoenix, Ariz., to Yarmouth Port, Mass., participated in the investigation.
Joe Elmore, CEO of the Charleston Animal Society, says the organization is continuing to participate in raids of dog-fighting rings, puppy mills, and hoarding situations. "We have a long history of leading the charge against dog fighting and deploy our staff on a regular basis to operations across the country," Elmore says.
If you are interested in donating money to help pay for medical care of sick and injured animals at the Charleston Animal Society, click here to donate to Toby's Fund.