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The largest crackdown on dogfighting — ever

The most ambitious crackdown on dogfighting in American history has now led to the seizure of more than 450 dogs, with raids and arrests in eight states.

Following an investigation initiated by the The Humane Society of Missouri, officers from multiple federal and state law enforcement agencies made arrests and seized dogs in Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas in what was “the largest simultaneous raid of multiple dogfighting operations in the history of the United States,” according to the Humane Society of the United States.

“This intervention is a momentous victory in our ongoing battle to end the cruel, criminal dogfighting industry,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. 

Pacelle reported on his blog: “Four United States Attorneys and a bevy of federal law enforcement agencies, along with The HSUS, The Humane Society of Missouri, and the ASPCA, raided multiple dogfighting operations, and seized at least 450 dogs, in what was the largest single day of actions against dogfighting in American history.”

The Humane Society of Missouri is sheltering more than 300 dogs —  mostly pit bulls — seized in the Missouri and Illinois raids. The dogs will be housed, cared for and evaluated at an  emergency shelter in St. Louis.

A spokesperson for HSUS, said each dog will be assessed by behavioral experts in hopes of placing as many as possible in adoptive homes. This approach is in line with the treatment of the dogs that were rescued from Michael Vick’s Bad Newz Kennels in the former Atlanta Falcons quarterback’s dogfighting case. The majority of the Vick dogs are now living with individuals and families around the country.

“The Vick case taught us to see dogs in these cases as victims,” Donna Reynolds of our own local pit bull rescue organization, Bay Area Doglovers Responsible About Pit bulls (BAD RAP), told the San Francisco Chronicle.

This multi-state crackdown is the latest in a series of investigations that have taken place since former President Bush signed into law the 2007 Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act, which makes dogfighting a felony in all 50 states. Under the law, each person charged could receive a maximum of five years in prison and be fined up to $250,000.

The Humane Society of the United States was called in by the Humane Society of Missouri more than a year ago to provide assistance with this rescue. Also involved were the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Marshals Service, several U.S. Attorneys, the ASPCA and United Animal Nations.

The ASPCA is collaborating in the rescue, veterinary care, and forensics evidence collection of dogs, and will be assisting in behavior evaluations of the dogs.

“The ASPCA is determined to protect its nation’s pets from dogfighting and other forms of brutality” said ASPCA President and CEO Ed Sayres. “Animal cruelty cannot be tolerated, and we are proud to lend our support to federal and local agencies to ensure that these abusers are brought to justice.”

The ASPCA is lending the services of its special forensic cruelty investigation team, comprised of disaster animal rescuers, field service investigators, and Dr. Melinda Merck, a forensic veterinarian. More than a dozen responders from the ASPCA’s Disaster Response team are in the field, along with the ASPCA’s “Mobile Animal Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) Unit. 

 The HSUS estimates that 40,000 people follow organized dogfighting circuits across the U.S. while an additional 100,000 meet on neighborhood streets, alleys and hideaways. More than 250,000 dogs are placed in dogfighting pits each year, it says. The organization offers up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone involved in animal fighting.


Comment from Hank
Time July 10, 2009 at 7:20 am

My hat is off to the feds, HSUS, the Humane Society of Missouri, and everyone else that was involved in this.