On Wednesday, February 17, under the authority of the Washington County (GA) Sheriff's Office, the ASPCA Field Investigations and Response Team assisted in the rescue of 26 Pit Bulls near Sandersville, Georgia.
The dogs, allegedly used for fighting and breeding, were found chained to tire axles and posts scattering the 25-acre property. Left to starve without sufficient food, water or adequate shelter from freezing temperatures, all were severely emaciated and suffering from obvious neglect, including broken bones, wounds and a variety of infections. An additional six dogs were found dead and in various stages of decomposition.
"It's bad enough that these dogs were treated cruelly and raised in horrible conditions," said Tim Rickey, the ASPCA Senior Director of Field Investigations and Response. "But to leave them like this to starve is incomprehensible and speaks exactly to the kinds of heinous crimes the ASPCA fights day in and day out."
Authorities believe the dogs had been used for fighting. "They bear the battle scars consistent with those of fighting dogs," Rickey said. "Being chained 24/7 is no way to live—they have lived miserable lives, and are just starved for human contact."
With the help of other rescue organizations, including the United Animal Nations and Sumter DART (Disaster Animal Response Team), the dogs were safely transferred to an emergency shelter in Washington County where they received immediate triage by a team of veterinarians, including Dr. Melinda Merck, ASPCA Senior Director of Veterinary Forensics, and Dr. Robert Reisman, ASPCA Coordinator of Abuse Cases. They were assisted by ASPCA veterinary technicians and Dr. Jason Byrd, Associate Director of the Center for Forensic Medicine at the University of Florida.
Washington County authorities intend to arrest the caretaker of the animals, who claims the original owner did not provide the dogs with adequate food or other necessities. Other arrests and animal cruelty charges are anticipated.
"We are grateful to be able to respond to this situation, and for the agencies assisting us," said Deputy Lynn Schlup of the Washington County Sheriff's Office, who contacted the ASPCA for assistance.
The dogs will be cared for at the temporary shelter by volunteers of United Animal Nations until a forfeiture hearing. For the latest information about the rescued dogs, please visit ASPCA.org.