367 dogs rescued in multi-state dog fighting case - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

367 dogs rescued in multi-state dog fighting case

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Montgomery, Ala. - The ASPCA and the Humane Society, at the request of the U.S. Attorney's Office and the FBI, assisted in seizing 367 dogs in Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia in what is believed to be the second-largest dog fighting raid in U.S. history.

After a three-year investigation initiated by the Auburn Police, 13 search warrants were executed Friday morning throughout Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Texas. Ten suspects were arrested and indicted on felony dog fighting charges. Federal and local officials also seized firearms and drugs, as well as more than $500,000 in cash from dog fighting 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.

ASPCA and the Humane Society helped manage the removal and transport of the dogs to temporary emergency shelters in undisclosed locations. Responders are also providing veterinary care and behavior enrichment to the dogs, which are estimated to range in age from several days to 12 years.

Conditions of the dogs varied, but one veterinarian said a large number of them were  emaciated. 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.

"Today we ended the torture of hundreds of abused and neglected dogs," said Matt Bershadker, president and CEO of the ASPCA. "Never again will these dogs be forced to fight, live in squalor, or be neglected and deprived of the bare necessities. The ASPCA is extremely grateful to federal and local authorities who pursued this widespread investigation for so long, and we are happy to lend our assistance."

Dog fighting is a felony in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Additional illegal activities are often connected with dog fighting, such as drug and weapons violations. Earlier this year, the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act was reintroduced in Congress. It would make it a federal offense to attend an organized animal fight and impose additional penalties for bringing a minor to a fight.

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