Thursday, July 9, 2009
Yesterday, authorities seized more than 400 dogs and charged 26 people from seven states in what Humane Society officials are calling one of the largest crackdowns on dogfighting in the United States.
State and federal agents staged raids in several states, charging individuals in Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas following a more-than-year-long investigation originally tipped off by the Humane Society of Missouri.
In Missouri, prosecutors said members of a multistate ring routinely denied the dogs medical treatment and "destroyed" injured dogs who were no longer able to fight by shooting them "in the head, throwing them into the river or burning them in a barrel."
Although the arrests stem from the same investigation, the rings were not "one concentrated, organized conspiracy." United States attorneys in four districts will try the cases separately.
Kathy Warnick, president of the Humane Society of Missouri called the raid the "largest coordinated rescue in U.S. history." "This heinous, heinous bloodsport is not going to be tolerated," she told the New York Daily News.
The Humane Society of Missouri is sheltering more than 300 dogs — believed to be mostly pit bull terriers — seized in Missouri and Illinois raids. The dogs will be housed, cared for and evaluated at an undisclosed emergency shelter in St. Louis.
Jordan Crump, a spokesperson for The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), said each dog will be assessed by behavioral experts in hopes of placing as many as possible in adoptive homes. This approach is in line with the treatment of the dogs that were rescued from Michael Vick's Bad Newz Kennels in the former Atlanta Falcons quarterback's dogfighting case. The majority of the Vick dogs are now living with individuals and families around the country.
"The Vick case taught us to see dogs in these cases as victims," said Donna Reynolds of our own local pit bull rescue organization, Bay Area Doglovers Responsible About Pit bulls (BAD RAP).
This incident is the latest in a series of investigations that have taken place since President George W. Bush signed into law the 2007 Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act, which makes dogfighting a felony in all 50 states. Under the law, each person charged could receive a maximum of five years in prison and be fined up to $250,000.
Posted By: Amelia Glynn (Email) | July 09 2009 at 01:41 PM