At the request of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina (USASC) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the ASPCA is currently on the ground assisting with a federal investigation involving drugs and dog fighting in Columbia, South Carolina.
Earlier today, agents executed a search warrant and seized a dozen dogs from a property in Gaston, South Carolina. Upon arriving at the scene, ASPCA responders found severely emaciated and dehydrated dogs with scars and injuries commonly associated with dog fighting. Some were chained and anchored to car axles. The remains of deceased dogs were also found.
“The truth is that dog fighting happens all over the country, but it’s an underground activity that goes mostly unnoticed by the public,” said Tim Rickey, Vice President of the ASPCA’s Field Investigations and Response Team. “Dog fighting is often linked to other illegal activities including drugs and gambling, and we’re pleased to work alongside state, federal and local law enforcement agencies in ending these dogs’ suffering and seeing justice served.”
Earlier this month, a separate warrant was served for the removal of drugs and 35 dogs from the same property. The Lexington County Animal Shelter provided daily care for the seized dogs until the ASPCA was able to transport the dogs to a temporary shelter in an undisclosed location.
The ASPCA will continue to provide daily care for the dogs at the temporary shelter until custody is determined by the court. PetSmart Charities® is sending supplies such as pet crates, toys and treats to support the rescue operation.
We are committed to helping these dogs heal, both physically and emotionally, but we need your support now more than ever. When you make a gift today, you will help provide these dogs with the urgent care they so desperately need, and you’ll help us continue to rescue victims of animal cruelty across the country.
Berta and Bessie—who were only a year old at the time of their rescue—had been found living in squalor with little-to-no protection from the elements. They wore heavy chains and had no food or fresh water, and they had never been socialized with other people or dogs. In order to help them heal (both physically and emotionally), we sent them to the ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center in Madison, New Jersey. Over the course of the next year, they learned to trust people, take walks, play with toys, and receive belly rubs. Now these sweet girls just need one last thing: adopters!
Berta: Berta is a lover! She enjoys being touched, pet and cuddled, and will crawl right into your lap if you let her—even if you’ve just met! She loves to play with other dogs, and would do great in a home with a confident dog of similar energy and play style. Berta is a bit nervous walking in busy areas, and is especially nervous around bicycles, so adopters should be willing to work with her to make her comfortable with these things. As a bonus, if you look closely, the dark tan spot over her eye is in the shape of a heart!
Bessie: Bessie is a sweet clown. Though she is a bit shy around new people, she enjoys giving kisses and being pet by friends who have earned her trust. She really comes alive in the presence of another dog, and would do best in a home with at least one other pup. Bessie has played with dogs of all sizes and can adjust her play style to theirs. In addition, she’s earned a reputation as a “tap dancer,” because she gets so excited before walks and play dates that she literally can’t keep her feet on the floor! She is a bit nervous around loud noises, so she will need a patient family that will continue to help her discover the world.
If you are interested in adopting Berta or Bessie, please contact the ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center directly via email at [email protected] or call 973-377-5609.
It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since more than 300 dogs were rescued from lives of misery and horror in one of the largest federal dog fighting busts in U.S. history. The August 2013 raid spanned Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Texas, and resulted in ten arrests and the rescue of 367 dogs, ranging in age from just several days to 10-12 years.
The dogs were left to suffer in extreme heat, with no visible fresh water or food, and some were tethered by chains and cables attached to cinder blocks and car tires.
What a difference a year makes. Thanks in large part to the incredible efforts of countless organizations* and volunteers, many of the dogs are now enjoying carefree lives of comfort in the loving arms of families who adore them. We’ve told you some of their stories (who can forget Timmy, the poster pup?) but to mark the one-year anniversary of the dogs’ freedom, we have a few more updates complete with adorable photos. Please enjoy and share these inspiring happy tails using the hashtag #367rescue.
Arabelle Sharon N. was volunteering with Plenty of Pit Bulls in Gainesville, Florida, when she heard about Arabelle, a senior dog and one of several who had been used as a breeder. “I have a soft spot for the seniors and couldn’t wait to meet her,” Sharon says. “It was love at first sight for both of us. I spent some time with her in her kennel and when I got up to leave, she got up and barked as if to say, ‘please don’t go.’” It was the first time since the rescue that anyone had heard Arabelle bark. This lucky lady adores her new family, including her canine siblings, and loves life and everything it has to offer her. Sharon adds: “From the moment we arrived at the house, it was as if she had been waiting her whole life for a home of her own.”
Hope (FKA Mabel) Mabel was one of six dogs recently transported to the Great Plains SPCA in Merriam, Kansas to find her forever home. Mabel’s stay at Great Plains SPCA didn’t last long—three days after her arrival, Lisa G. saw Mabel on the local news station and immediately contacted the shelter expressing interest in adopting the rambunctious pooch. When Lisa saw that Mabel’s shelter ID collar read “923,” she smiled. It was the same as her birthday, 9/23. “It was meant to be,” says Lisa. “We just love her to pieces.”Mabel, now renamed Hope, spends her time with her canine sister, Jasmine, who was a rescued bait dog from a separate dog fighting case, and two human siblings along with Lisa and her husband.
Abby Abby was 3-months-old when Tamara H. became her foster parent through Charleston Animal Society (CAS) last October. Tamara was told that Abby came from a cruelty case, but that the specifics couldn’t be disclosed. She knew it was likely a dog fighting case. Although Tamara already had two dogs—a Chow-Shepherd mix and a hound—and hadn’t planned on adopting another, she knew soon after bringing Abby home that she wouldn’t be able to give her back. When CAS contacted Tamara to ask if she would like to keep Abby or bring her back to CAS to be made available for adoption, Tamara came in immediately to sign the adoption papers and make her forever home official.
* We want to extend a special thanks to the many volunteers and organizations (listed below) that have partnered with us over the past year, especially those agencies that have adopted out more than 10 dogs from the case: Thank you, Humane Society of Calvert County, Charleston Animal Society, Humane Society of Pinellas, Plenty of Pitbulls and Atlanta Humane Society!
A sign on the door of the house reportedly read “Premises is perilous to life,” and it was not a joke or an exaggeration. When the ASPCA and the NYPD entered the Queens home on Thursday, July 31, what we found was horrific—and heartbreaking.
Multiple dogs, many of whom were emaciated, scarred, and wearing heavy chains, were found without access to food or water. A bloody treadmill—a tool used to train dogs for fighting—weighted harnesses, steroids, syringes and other dog fighting paraphernalia were found in the home. At least one dog had deep scratch marks raked across its face.
Uniformed NYPD patrol officers from the 113th Precinct responded immediately to a complaint of dog fighting, called the ASPCA helpline, and less than 24 hours later both the NYPD and ASPCA—with the assistance of NYPD’s newly appointed Animal Cruelty Investigation Squad—were able to mobilize resources. Siblings Addison Holder, 44, and Keisha Hall, 33, are currently facing charges of animal fighting, unauthorized practice of veterinary medicine and felony drug possession, and are each being held on $100,000 bail. A third defendant was arrested on Wednesday, August 6.
The ASPCA has taken custody of the 20 canine victims found in the home. They are now receiving food, water, enrichment and love—many for the first time in their lives.
“Organized dog fighting is a brutal form of animal abuse where dogs are exploited and forced to fight as their owners profit from their torture,” says Matthew Bershadker, President and CEO of the ASPCA. “Through our partnership, the ASPCA and the NYPD are determined to protect New York City’s animals from this form of cruelty and bring their abusers to justice.”
You may have seen this photo before. It was taken last August at the scene of a dog fighting raid, and it has been used in ASPCA advertisements all around the Internet and on TV. It can be hard to look at—a small, vulnerable puppy tied to a heavy chain, alone and cowering in fear. With just the quick snap of a camera, this single moment captured so much about the fatal sport of dog fighting, and this puppy became the face of abused animals everywhere.
But Timmy’s story doesn’t end there. This sweet puppy was placed in foster homes that helped train him to become a well-adjusted pet. His final foster parents, Brian and Nadine DeCicco, just couldn’t give the little pup up and adopted him this past May. “We didn’t have any concerns about bringing a dog who had been associated with fighting into our home,” says Brian. “We’ve both had dogs our whole lives and know that they can reflect the way they are treated. Both of our previous dogs were pit mixes and they are just so unbelievably affectionate.”
Timmy now lives with Brian and Nadine in Maryland, where he is safe, happy and well-fed. “These dogs show amazing resiliency and forgiveness after being treated so poorly. They just want to be loved,” says Brian. Timmy spends his days snuggling with his family, snoozing in his “pita pocket” bed, playing tug-of-war with the neighbor’s Mastiff, and letting out his puppy energy—energy that at one time was restricted to a heavy collar and chain.
It’s hard to believe that Timmy is the same dog from that first photo. Fortunately, he will never have to worry about growing up to become a fighting dog, like so many generations of dogs tied to that very same chain before him.