Firsthand Report from Massive Dog Fighting Bust

Thursday, September 5, 2013 - 3:00pm
When this little puppy was found, he wore a heavy chain typical of dog fighting victims.

Last week, we told you about our massive dog fighting bust that spanned multiple states and resulted in the removal of 367 dogs and puppies. We gave you an inside look with our on-the-scene video, and now we have a first-person account from the rescue. Below is a guest blog by Tim Rickey, Vice President of the ASPCA’s Field Investigations & Response Team, reflecting on what he found during the raid and the terrible fate of dog fighting victims.

When I first walked on the property, I stared across the yard and saw more than 100 dogs, most of them tied to heavy log chains, anchored to dilapidated dog houses. The dogs ranged from old to young, living on a worn dirt ring that likely had seen generations of dogs come and go to a sad fate.

Most were chained nose-to-nose to their neighbors to ensure continuous arousal.

I first thought of what a grim fate many of these dogs would have met without our intervention that day. But as I looked at a young, weeks-old puppy with one glance, and an aging, 10-year-old senior with another, my thoughts quickly turned to the long, lonely and painful journey of a fighting dog’s life.

This cycle begins with being chained at such an early age with little to no positive human or animal interaction. The burden continues with heavy chains, often with additional weights, to drag around their entire lives. The constant noise, arousal and anxiousness push them towards aggression to or from their yard mates. If they don't respond, their life may end quickly, but if they do, they have sealed their fate of a long, torturous life.

Their only reprieve from the chain is death or brief release to be tested against another dog, eventually going back to the chain with little attention to their wounds. What follows is weeks of intense training and significant human interaction with the person who will commit the ultimate betrayal and force them into a barbaric battle for entertainment and profit. If they survive, they go back again to the chain: A vicious cycle that could go on for years until these dogs finally have no value or fight left in them and are discarded.

Our responders are still on the ground, so please stay tuned to for more news to come. Follow the conversation on Twitter using hashtag #367rescue. 

If now is a good time for you to give, please consider making a gift to the ASPCA. Thank you for helping us support cruelty victims nationwide.

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In Tennessee, the animal control departments are so underfunded they cannot investigate the many dog fighting operations. The Senator voted against a bill that would stiffen laws against dogfighting nationwide. He said it was because he wanted state rather than Federal control, but never put forward any bills to address dogfighting or promoted increasing budgets.


I agree. I was sick when I read some time ago about Michael Vick found to be having a dog...He will never be forgiven as far as I'm concerned.

Nicky Breed

God bless every single innocent are God's creations and those non-human things who call themselves as people should van ice of the planet for good


I know the right punishment for these evil people. Tether them on same chains that they use on their dogs. Let them know what's like to be tied up 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Do it for a few days. Maybe they just might change their ways.


i agree. The people who did this should get severe punishment. I just don't understand why! Yes they are animals but they have feelings! People should know that by now!


funny, what I remember is Tim Rickey BECOMING a dogfighter and sacrificing dogs (whose fate is unknown but I have my guesses).


I believe you need to double check that article. It clearly states Rickey was with HSUS at the time of this case and is now with the ASPCA.


"Frankly, we didn't know how the public would respond," says Tim Rickey, who at the time headed the Humane Society's animal-cruelty task force. "We just jumped into it. For me, it was about doing the right thing."

Adds Rickey: "It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. They don't utilize these types of resources very often."


Tim Rickey took over as the ASPCA's head of field investigations and response after assisting with the undercover dogfighting investigation.


sometimes you have to sacrifice a few to save many. :( Unfortunate but true

Lea Harrelson

Yes, you are mistaken. I know it was a long article, but I think you must have skimmed and therefore, misunderstood who Rickey is and what title and in what capacity he worked with this operation. He was Not on of the Bad Guys..... Maybe next time, you should Read an article in Full.


Emily, you really must read more carefully! I know you just accidentally messed up your facts and read incorrectly, but seriously - you have to be a little more careful when you make statements!!!