Nearly 370 pit bulls have been rescued as the result of a federal dog fighting raid carried out in Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia. The raid followed a three-year investigation and It’s the second-largest dog-fighting raid in U.S. history. U.S. Attorney George Beck, members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), The Humane Society of the United States, the Coffee County Sheriff’s Office, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, the Auburn Police Department and others announced the raid of the multi-state dog fighting ring at a press conference August 26th.
The investigation, which I understand was started by the Auburn Police, grew into a full-blown probe and remains ongoing. Tim Rickey, vice president of field investigations and response for the ASPCA, called the raid a “monumental event.” He said 260 of the pit bulls were rescued on one day at 13 separate properties. Rickey described what the law enforcement team found:
The conditions were consistent of what we see in other illegal dog fighting rings. The dogs were living in horrendous conditions, with the majority tethered to heavy chains. They were infested with fleas and had no fresh water or food. Many of the dogs had wounds, scars or other conditions consistent with dog fighting. The dogs are now being taken care of in undisclosed shelters.
I agree with George Beck, who says the investigation was more than just “the inhuman treatment of dogs.” He correctly stated at the news conference that it’s a “sad commentary” on an affluent society that allows this underground culture and indulgence of violence which is “spreading over onto streets and into our homes.” It’s time for the public to demand that our elected officials give law enforcement officers at every level the tools they need to do their job. This raid is a step in the right direction.
Twelve suspects were arrested following the execution of 13 search warrants on a 30-count indictment. It appears that between 2009 and 2013, the suspects conspired to promote and sponsor dog fights, and conspired to possess, buy, sell, transport and deliver dogs that were involved in dog fighting. The indictment also charges the suspects with promoting or sponsoring a dog fight and with possessing, buying, selling, transporting and delivering a dog for fighting purposes. Additional charges also relate to conducting an illegal gambling business. U.S. Attorney Beck, in explaining the magnitude of the operation, stated:
These defendants were betting between $5,000 and $200,000 on one dog fight. The number of dogs seized and the amount of money involved in this case shows how extensive this underworld of dog fighting is. These dog fighters abuse, starve and kill their dogs for the supposed ‘fun’ of watching and gambling on a dog fight. Their behavior is deplorable, will not be tolerated, and will be punished to the full extent of the law.
In addition to the dogs, federal and local officials also seized firearms and drugs in the raid. More than $500,000 in cash was seized from dog fighting and gambling activities that took place during the course of the investigation. Remains of dead animals were discovered on some properties where dogs were housed. Any person who would participate in such horrendous and immoral activities must pay a harsh penalty for their wrongdoing. Treating animals like they did is inexcusable. Actually, it’s a pretty good indication that those involved in this activity would also do harm to humans. Simply put, we cannot tolerate shameful conduct of this sort to continue anywhere in this country.
The prosecution and conviction of the wrongdoers must serve as a lesson to others who are involved in dog-fighting enterprises. It’s too bad we can’t just chain each one of these criminals to a metal dog house, keep them under the same conditions the dogs were kept in, and let them experience the hell they subjected these dogs to. But neither is that sort of conduct acceptable amongst civilized folks. So let’s let the criminal justice system take care of them.
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