ASPCA

Published: Aug 26, 2013 12:01 PM EDT

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The ASPCA and The Humane Society of the United States, at the request of the United States Attorney's Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, 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, Aug. 23, 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 HSUS responders 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 just several days to 10-12 years. The ASPCA and The HSUS also assisted authorities with collecting forensic evidence to be submitted for prosecution.

Conditions of the dogs varied, but one ASPCA veterinarian commented on the large number of the dogs that appeared 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. Some appeared to have no access to water at all, and 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. Some dogs pulled at chains and cables that were tethered to cinder blocks and car tires. A female dog did her best to tend to six puppies, just weeks old, with no food or water, in a pen littered with trash and feces.

In July 2009, the ASPCA and The HSUS, along with numerous federal and local agencies, participated in a multi-state dog fighting raid, the largest federal crackdown on dog fighting in U.S. history, resulting in the rescue of over 500 dogs. The eight-state raid, launched by federal and local agencies, spanned Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Nebraska and Mississippi and resulted in more than 100 arrests.