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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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Just untie them yourself, better the consequences than letting them starve.


Absolutely!!!! Untie them!!!! Sometimes you have to step in yourself.... same goes with dogs in yards that the law doesn't support... these laws are so weak, people can get away with just about anything!!


So, you saw a horse starving just down the road, but expected others to take care of it, right? I know that it is certain people's actual jobs to investigate and handle these problems legally, but why stand by and watch a horse starve to death? Go feed it, knock on the owners door, raise hell til someone listens! Anything but standing by just watching a horse die a slow and horrible death.


Untie the horse, put in a bucket of water, or throw a hay bale within reach!


If you can, keep an eye on them and as long as you don't go onto their property, they can't do anything. If you notice the horses are getting skinny or mistreated take pics if possible. You don't want the owner to get suspicious of what you're doing though because then they might put the horses somewhere where they can't be seen at all which would be defeating your purpose.


Ann Marie, I also live in Gainesville and I'd like to invite you to Petsmart on Archer Rd. tomorrow from 11-5 to show you how many local animal folks are doing their absolute best for the dogs of Alachua and Levy counties. I think you'll be surprised at the number of both dogs and volunteers who are taking time to find forever homes for every dog possible! We (Phoenix Animal Rescue) even have our own spokesdog who was rescued from a dog fighting ring in Marion County over 3 years ago and she'd love your help!


Ann Marie,
I believe that you care - or you wouldn't be responding in any manner. If we ALL can't stand together against this ongoing problem (instead of attacking each other over a comment), then this problem and many others won't go away. Find like-minded individuals and start a non-profit, a petition, or local group - something to reflect your desire to help in ANY way. I am sure that there are Many people that feel the same way you do in your town - get the word out - and you'll see the change/difference that ONE PERSON (You) can make - no matter how small, every effort helps!

kelly restivo

Founded in 1866, the ASPCA was the first humane organization in the Western Hemisphere. Our mission, as stated by founder Henry Bergh, is “to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States.” While there are SPCAs and humane societies all over the country, the ASPCA is not directly affiliated with them. However, the ASPCA works nationally to rescue animals from abuse, pass humane laws and share resources with many shelters across the country.

George Baldwin

I suggest you visit the Alachua Counry Humane Society on Rte 20 in NE Gainesville for a more up to date picture of what's being done and by whom.

George Baldwin

I suggest you visit the Alachua County Humane Society on Rte 20 in NE Gainesville for a more up to date picture of what's being done and by whom.