Here’s some updated information pertaining to yesterday’s breaking news. It appears the dog fighting rings were not connected but it is still the largest coordinated rescue in U.S. history.
ST. LOUIS – The authorities seized more than 400 dogs on Wednesday and charged 26 people from seven states in what officials called one of the largest crackdowns on dogfighting in the United States.
State and federal agents staged raids in several states, picking up individuals in Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas.
In Missouri, prosecutors said members of a multistate ring routinely destroyed injured dogs by shooting them “in the head, throwing the dogs into the river or burning the dogs in a barrel.”
The arrests stem from the same investigation, but officials said the rings were not necessarily connected, and United States attorneys in four districts – the Eastern District of Missouri, the Western District of Missouri, the Southern District of Illinois and the Eastern District of Texas – will try the cases separately.
“The allegation is not that this was one concentrated, organized conspiracy,” said Don Ledford, a spokesman for the acting United States attorney for the Western District of Missouri, Matt Whitworth. “This was not one big ring.”
In Missouri, the authorities charged 12 people; in Texas federal prosecutors charged nine men; and in Illinois the authorities charged five men with, among other things, buying, selling and breeding animals for dogfighting.
“This is the largest coordinated rescue in U.S. history,” said Kathy Warnick, president of the Humane Society of Missouri, whose organization is caring for more than 300 of the dogs. “This is going to send a vehement message that dogfighting will not be tolerated in the civilized society.”
Let’s hope all the perpetrators involved will be punished to the fullest extent of the law. It’s time to let the individuals who participate in this barbaric sport know that it will no longer be tolerated, they will be caught and punished.
In 2007 George W. Bush signed into law the Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act, making dog fighting a felony. Each count is now punishable with a fine up to $250,000 and a maximum of five years imprisonment.