FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jenn Miler-Most, Executive Director
Sumter Disaster Animal Response Team, Inc.
727-481-1385 or firstname.lastname@example.org
367 Dogs Rescued in Multi-State Dog Fighting Case,
Second Largest in U.S. History
Sumter DART assists The ASPCA and The HSUS in seizing dogs in Alabama,Mississippi, Georgia in caseled by Auburn Police, FBI, U.S. Attorney’s Office
MONTGOMERY, AL, August 28, 2013— Sumter DART (Disaster Animal Response Team), at the request of The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®), and in conjunction with The Humane Society of the United States and 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 wereexecuted 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.
Sumter DART responders helped The ASPCA and The HSUS 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.
“While we are saddened that the torture of innocent animals exists in our country, we are glad to have been able to lend a helping hand to the ASPCA by providing transportation and logistics for these abused and neglected dogs and puppies in Alabama,” said Jenn Miler-Most, Executive Director of Sumter DART. “It is our vision that the practice of dog fighting will be eradicated.”
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 the U.S. Congress, which would make it a federal offense to attend an organized animal fight and impose additional penalties for bringing a minor to a fight.