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ASPCA's Mobile Animal CSI Unit Celebrates 1st Anniversary in Action

Ground-Breaking Mobile Unit Assists in Raid of N.C. Dogfighting Operation
December 11, 2008

NEW YORK, December 11, 2008 - The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) today announced that on the one-year anniversary of the unveiling of its state-of-the-art "Mobile Animal Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) Unit" was hard at work, assisting in yesterday's raid of a major dogfighting operation in North Carolina.

The raid of "Wildside Kennels," an alleged dogfighting operation in McGrady, N.C., was a result of a three-year investigation by the Wilkes County Sheriff’s Office, the Wilkes County Animal Control Agency, and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Authorities found suspected dogfighting paraphernalia on the property and seized 127 dogs - several of which had scars consistent with dogfighting. Dr. Melinda Merck, senior director of Veterinary Forensics for the ASPCA, was on-site with the Mobile Unit, assisting with the raid and evaluating the seized dogs for evidence of animal fighting.

"The ASPCA is proud that on the one-year anniversary of the unveiling of this extraordinary vehicle, it was again hard at work assisting in the raid of a dogfighting ring," said ASPCA President & CEO Ed Sayres. "In its first year in operation, the ASPCA's Mobile CSI Unit has traveled thousands of miles across the country investigating countless heinous acts of animal cruelty such as dogfighting, and it will continue this vital work for years to come."

A man alleged to be the owner of the operation, and two others, were arrested. Each was charged with one count of felony dogfighting and baiting; additional charges are pending. The alleged owner of the operation, Ed Faron, was previously convicted of dogfighting and is reportedly one of the 10 most influential figures in the underground dogfighting circuit. It is a felony in North Carolina to possess a dog for the purpose of dogfighting. Those involved in illegal dogfighting can receive up to 10 months in prison.

The ASPCA's Mobile Animal CSI Unit a specially-designed vehicle outfitted with state-of-the-art forensics tools as well as medical equipment tailored for animal patients was unveiled exactly one year ago today on December 11, 2007 in New York City. A "forensics first," the "Animal CSI" vehicle was created to significantly advance the prosecution of animal cruelty and help strengthen cases against offenders by incorporating the emerging field of veterinary forensics in crime scene investigations. Yesterday's raid also took place on the one-year anniversary of Michael Vick's sentencing in a federal dogfighting case.

For more information on the ASPCA's fight against animal cruelty, please visit www.aspca.org.