Hundreds of dogs have been rescued after police arrested 11 people accused of organizing a huge dog fighting ring across multiple states. They were arrested for violations of the federal dog fighting and gambling statutes.
367 pit-bull terriers that were malnourished and mistreated were rescued by police as the organizers of the ring were arrested in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and Texas. Authorities also recovered $500,000 in the raid.
The dogs were taken to temporary shelters and are being taken care of by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
"It's really a sad day to me and a sad day of affairs in the state of Alabama to have to even indulge in this type of criminal activity and prosecution," said U.S. Attorney George L. Beck Jr, according to WQAD.
"Today, we ended the torture of hundreds of abused and neglected dogs," said Matt Bershadker, president and chief executive officer of the ASPCA.
In a statement, the ASPCA said, "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."
According to Beck, some of the suspects were betting between $5,000 to $200,000 on one dogfight. "These dog fighters abuse, starve and kill their dogs for the supposed 'fun' of watching and gambling on a dogfight. Their behavior is deplorable, will not be tolerated, and will be punished to the full extent of the law."
Sheriff David Sutton of Coffee County, Alabama, said, "Those animals can't speak like you and I. We chose to speak for them, and I believe we sent a message out. If you do the crime, we are going to come see you."
The 11 suspects will face trial and may face long prison terms if convicted. The dogs will be kept as evidence for the trial.