Authorities seized 367 pit bulls used for dog fighting in raids
in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and Texas as part of a federal and state investigation that resulted in the arrest of 12 people.
At one site, some 114 emaciated, wounded dogs were found chained to tires, without food and water, and in makeshift shelters in scorching summer heat, according to Reuters
U.S. Attorney George Beck said Monday that the 12 people are charged with conducting an illegal gambling business and multiple dog fighting charges, including promoting dog fights. Additional defendants are being sought, according to The Associated Press
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Federal and state officers served search warrants Friday in simultaneous raids in Alabama and Georgia. They also seized more than $500,000 in cash.
The suspects, who come from Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama and Texas, face multiple charges related to dog fighting and gambling, with each charge carrying up to five years in prison. Dog fighting is a felony in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
The U.S. Attorney said the charges are the result of a three-year investigation by nearly two dozen state, local and federal agencies. In additi9on to the $500,000, they seized drugs, guns and other evidence in what they called a high-stakes ring that saw bets up to $200,000 per fight, according to the statement.
This size of this raid is second only in the United States to a 2009 case in which more than 500 dogs were rescued and more than 100 people in eight states were arrested, according to the ASPCA.
The Humane Society of the United States and the ASPCA are caring for the animals at undisclosed locations. ASPCA vice president Tim Rickey said the dogs are finally getting a loving hand from people who care for them.
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"Thousands of others all over the country continue to endure unimaginable suffering and death just like this at the hands of dog fighters," said Tim Rickey of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which along with the Humane Society of the United States helped remove the dogs.
"We want to end it once and for all."
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