Some good news on a topic laden with horror: Last Friday, the ASPCA helped end the torture of hundreds of abused dogs in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and Texas and brought to justice those who—for profit and perverse pleasure—betrayed and defiled the trust that connects humans and animals.
In an operation that involved 16 animal welfare organizations, including The Humane Society of the United States, as well as at least 10 federal and state law enforcement agencies, 367 dogs across multiple locations in the Southeast were seized in the second-largest dog fighting raid in U.S. history.
I spent several years overseeing the ASPCA’s anti-cruelty group, where I witnessed or heard first-hand accounts of unspeakable acts of cruelty, but rarely have I encountered suffering of this size and scope. Dogs ranging in age from several days to 12 years were found emaciated and bearing typical scars of dog fighting, and left to suffer in extreme heat with no visible fresh water or food. Some were tethered by chains and cables to cinder blocks and car tires. Remains of dead animals were also discovered where the dogs were housed and allegedly fought.
These are the tell-tale signs of the horrors of dog fighting, the ultimate betrayal of the unique relationship that exists between humans and animals. Manipulating a dog’s intense desire to please its owner, perpetuating a life of chronic and acute physical and psychological pain, is the most horrific form of animal abuse.
The only consolation to this tragedy was the fact that, for the long-suffering animals who survived, lives of brutal torture and neglect had come to an end, and days of medical care and attention were about to start. Never again would they be forced to fight, live in squalor, or be neglected and deprived of bare necessities. No animal on earth—much less those often described as "man's best friend"—should have to endure such brutality at the hand of man.
As part of our raid, which we assisted at the request of the United States Attorney’s Office and the FBI, federal and local officials also seized firearms, drugs, and over $500,000 in cash from dog fighting gambling activities. All of these efforts were the result of a three-year investigation initiated by the Auburn Police.
Ten suspects were arrested and indicted on felony dog fighting charges. If convicted, they could each face up to five years in prison.
I believe these atrocities and the subsequent results will have positive and practical reverberations that will make a difference. The raid elevates the issue of dog fighting -- a reprehensible and vile activity – to people who will not only be appalled, but moved to share news and information, and fight for common-sense legislation. Dog fighting is a felony in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, but that doesn’t seem to stop the atrocity. Earlier this year, the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act was reintroduced in the U.S. Congress, which would make it a federal offense to attend an organized animal fight and impose additional penalties for bringing a minor to a fight, expanding the implications of participation in this terrible crime.
I'm very proud that we saved these animals, and the unprecedented ways we did. This is not the last dog fighting ring we'll break up, but you can be sure we'll be working hard until the day we can finally say it is.
After a three-year investigation initiated by the Auburn Police, 13 search warrants were executed Friday morning, Aug. 23, throughout Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Texas. Ten suspects were arrested and indicted on felony dog fighting charges. Federal and local officials also seized firearms and drugs, as well as more than $500,000 in cash from dog fighting gambling activities that took place over the course of the investigation.
The dogs, ranging in age from just several days to 10-12 years, had been left to suffer in extreme heat with no visible fresh water or food. Many are emaciated with scars and wounds consistent with dog fighting, and some were tethered by chains and cables that were attached to cinder blocks and car tires.
ASPCA responders and responders from The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) helped manage the removal and transport of the dogs to temporary emergency shelters in undisclosed locations, where responders are providing veterinary care and behavior enrichment. Responders also assisted authorities with collecting forensic evidence to be submitted for prosecution.
Other animal welfare groups assisting with the operation include Florida State Animal Response Coalition and Sumter Disaster Animal Response Team (Bushnell, Fla.); University of Florida (Gainesville); Humane Society of South Mississippi (Gulfport); International Fund for Animal Welfare (Yarmouth Port, Mass.); Asheville Humane Society (Asheville, N.C.); Charleston Animal Society (Charleston, S.C.); Louisiana SPCA (New Orleans); American Humane Association (Washington, D.C.); Greater Birmingham Humane Society (Birmingham, Ala.); Atlanta Humane Society (Atlanta, Ga.); PetSmart Charities (Phoenix, Ariz.); Code 3 Associates (Longmont, Colo.); and Montgomery Humane Society (Montgomery, Ala.).
Our responders are still on the ground, and we’ll provide updates as the case unfolds. Stay tuned to aspcarescue.org for more news to come. Follow the conversation on Twitter using hashtag #367rescue.
BSL is counterproductive. Rather than give up their beloved pets, owners of restricted breeds often attempt to hide their “outlaw” dogs by restricting time outdoors and even limiting vet visits. Actions like these, taken to avoid detection, can have negative consequences for both public and canine health.
Studies have concluded that correctly identifying a dog’s breed based on looks alone is a hit-or-miss proposition—and the confusion only grows when dealing with mixed breeds, so these laws are difficult to enforce. Additionally, animal control officers in jurisdictions with BSL end up spending too much time enforcing breed bans instead of routine enforcement of dog licensing laws, leash laws and other regulations that require owners to control their dogs−regardless of breed.
The ASPCA is currently fighting breed discrimination in Massachusetts and Maryland. On the national scale, residents of public housing funded by the federal government are often impacted by rules that unfairly restrict the breeds they may own. The Obama Administration’s statement should instruct federal agencies to review their policies to be sure they don’t allow flawed regulations and breed bans. Join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade to help fight BSL in your area!
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Whether you’ve recently adopted a dog or you’re considering it, one of the most important health decisions you’ll make is whether to spay or neuter your new pet.
When it comes to “fixing” male dogs, specifically, there’s a lot of misinformation swirling around. (“It’ll make my dog fat” and “it’ll change his personality” are two common myths that we’d like to bust forever!) Some pet parents even express guilt over neutering their dogs. But trust us, he doesn’t mind, and here’s why:
Neutering provides major health benefits. Besides preventing unwanted litters, neutering your male pup prevents testicular cancer and significantly reduces the chance of certain prostate problems as he ages.
Your neutered male will be more at peace. Neutering won’t affect your dog’s working abilities, friendliness or playfulness! However, it will likely reduce undesirable, sometimes dangerous behaviors including urine marking, attempts to roam away from home, aggression toward other dogs and inappropriate mounting. These things stress everybody out—including him.
He won’t become a deadbeat dad. Every year, millions of dogs of all ages and breeds are euthanized or suffer as strays. You wouldn’t want your beloved pooch to be responsible for creating yet another unplanned litter, would you?
Many states and counties have established safe, low-cost spay/neuter programs that make surgery easily affordable and accessible. To find an affordable program near you, search our Low-Cost Spay/Neuter Provider Database. If you're in New York City, the ASPCA mobile spay/neuter clinic offers partially or fully subsidized spay/neuter surgery for low-income dog and cat owners in the five boroughs.
Renovating a home is rarely an easy task—even when our faithful pets are trying to help! One pet parent, Consie, learned that the hard way when her seven-month-old pup, Martha, decided to lend a paw during a recent renovation project.
Martha got into a jar of putty Consie was using to fill holes in a wall, happily licking at it as if it were peanut butter. Consie immediately took the putty away from Martha and called the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC). “It makes sense to contact the experts in animal poisoning, and I didn’t have much time,” says Consie. “Martha could have seriously hurt herself and I needed to know the best course of action immediately.”
Luckily, the putty Martha consumed was non-toxic, but that didn’t mean this well-meaning dog was out of the woods. The amount of putty she consumed could still cause severe constipation, or even bowel obstruction. Amanda, an APCC veterinary assistant, and Dr. Michael Knight, one of the APCC’s veterinary toxicologists, carefully walked Consie through how to induce vomiting in the pup.
A few minutes (and a small mess) later, the putty was out of Martha’s system and the potential danger was mitigated. “Amanda and Dr. Knight gave me excellent advice and stayed on the phone with me the whole time. I’m really grateful to them and the APCC team,” says Consie.
The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center has been helping pet parents like Consie for 35 years, providing invaluable expertise and life-saving information 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year. This year, the APCC will take on an estimated 273,000 calls—that’s 500-plus cases per day!
If you think your pet may have ingested a potentially poisonous substance, call (888) 426-4435. You can also connect with the APCC on Facebook and Twitter.