MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WHNT) – Animal rescue groups worked with law enforcement agencies in Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi to seize 367 dogs on Friday, August 23. It’s believed to be the second-largest dog fighting raid in U.S. history.
The Humane Society of the United States and The ASPCA (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) worked with police departments in several cities, in conjunction with the United States Attorney’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Law enforcement agencies served 13 search warrants on Friday morning in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and Texas. They arrested 10 people who were indicted on felony dog fighting charges. Federal and local officials also seized firearms and drugs and more than $500,000 in cash from dog fighting and gambling activities.
The charges followed a three-year investigation initiated by Auburn Police.
“This is a great example of federal, state, and local agencies working together to make communities safer,” said Paul Register, Auburn Police Division Chief. “It is not just about the egregious act of dog fighting itself, but the other criminal activity that is affiliated with it.”
Animal rescue groups from several states, including Alabama, helped get the dogs to temporary emergency shelters in undisclosed locations. The Alabama cities where raids took place include Auburn, Brantley, Elba, Opelika, Waverly and Brownsville.
The largest single site raided was in Waverly, which had 114 dogs in one yard. Many of them were found sitting in 90-degree heat with no fresh water or food visible, tied to heavy chains. Many had wounds and appeared emaciated, according to a veterinarian involved in the effort.
Groups also found remains of dead animals in other yards where dogs were kept and allegedly involved in fighting.
“We are committing to eradicating dog fighting in every dark corner where it festers,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. “This series of raids reminds every dogfighter that they are not beyond the law and their day of reckoning will come.”
“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.”
The people arrested face up to five years in prison if convicted, along with fines.