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In the second largest dogfighting ring bust in US history, the result of a three-year multi-state investigation, 367 dogs were rescued.  There were 260 rescued Friday alone st 13 different properties in 3 states, Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi.  This was huge and took the combined effort of federal and state departments as well as the HSUS and ASPCA. The rescued pitbulls ranged in age from just days old to 10-12 years and many exhibited scars and wounds typical of the horrendous “sport.”

In addition to the dogs, there were also drug, weapons and large amounts of cash, more than $500,000, seized.  There were also remain of dead dogs found on the properties.

There were 12 arrests spanning 4 states, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and Texas, and additional suspects are being sought. Suspects were arrested following the execution of 13 search warrants on a 30-count indictment that between 2009 and 2013, the suspects conspired to promote and sponsor dog fights, and conspired to possess, buy, sell, transport and deliver dogs that were involved in dog fighting, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Alabama released.

“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.

Most of the defendants also are charged with conducting an illegal gambling business. In an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Opelika, one defendant is accused of winning $35,000 at a dog fight in Waverly in August 2011. Two others were stopped by officers with $12,000 in cash after attending a dog fight at a bar in Macon County in February 2012, the indictment read.

The following suspects were arrested: Donnie Anderson, 48, of Auburn; Demontt Allen, 37, of Houston, Texas; William Antone Edwards, 42, of Brantley; William Oneil Edwards, 39, of Elba; Robin Stinson, 40, of Elba; Michael Martin, 54, of Auburn; Lawrence Watford, 35, of Adel, Ga.; Ricky Van Le, 24, of Biloxi, Miss.; David Sellers, 52, of Opelika; Sandy Brown, 47, Brownsville; Carlton Tippens, of Georgia; and Irkis Forrest, of Theodore.

“I believe if Dante were alive today and rewriting the ‘Inferno’ that the lowest places in hell would be reserved for those who commit cruelty to our animals and to our children,” U.S. Attorney George Beck said at a news conference. “The “lowest places in hell” are reserved for people who force animals to fight.”

“Today, we ended the torture of hundreds of abused and neglected dogs,” said Matt Bershadker, president and chief executive officer of the ASPCA.

“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 dogfighting,” the ASPCA said in a statement.

“Makeshift, filthy doghouses — 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.”

Coffee County Sheriff David Sutton said the dogs at one Elba home were covered by fleas and were secured by heavy chains connected to car axles buried in the ground. Officials said some pit bulls were so malnourished their ribs were sticking out and others had bad wounds that required emergency care.

“Those animals can’t speak like you and I,” Sutton said. “They bark and they whine. 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.”

“These defendants were betting between $5,000 and $200,000 on one dog fight,” Beck said. “The number of dogs seized and the amount of money involved this in case shows how extensive this underworld of dog fighting is. These dog fighters abuse, starve and kill their dogs for the supposed ‘fun’ of watching and gambling on a dog fight. Their behavior is deplorable, will not be tolerated, and will be punished to the full extent of the law.”

The rescued dogs are being cared for by the Humane Society of the United States and the ASPCA at undisclosed locations.

“They are finally getting a loving hand from responders who care for these dogs, but sadly there are many other dogs out there going through this type of abuse,” ASPCA vice president Tim Rickey said.

We can only hope there is a future for the rescued dogs although we know that many will not make it.  There are so many pitbulls in shelters dying for homes as it is, you have to wonder how much of a chance trained fighting dogs will have at rehab.

And we can also hope that the low life pieces of trash that did this really will “be punished to the full extent of the law” as promised… but sadly, we usually know how things actually turn out… :(

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