On Wednesday, February 17, under the authority of the Washington County Sheriff's Office, the ASPCA Field Investigations and Response Team assisted in the rescue of 26 alleged fighting dogs near Sandersville, Georgia.
The dogs, mostly Pit Bulls allegedly used for fighting and breeding, were found tethered by heavy chains to tire axles and posts scattered throughout 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. A total of 27 deceased dogs were also found on the property.
"It's bad enough that these dogs were treated cruelly and raised in horrible conditions," said Tim Rickey, ASPCA Senior Director of Field Investigations and Response. "But to have left them like this to starve is incomprehensible and speaks exactly to the kinds of heinous crimes the ASPCA fights day in and day out."
The dogs "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 that included 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 Maples Center for Forensic Medicine at the University of Florida. The dogs were then cared for at the temporary shelter by United Animal Nations volunteers.
Video courtesy of Channel 6 WJBF
The tragic case had a silver lining: news coverage of this raid led to an investigation of another suspected dog fighting ring in the area just five days later.
Meanwhile, Washington County authorities arrested the Sandersville dogs' owner, Derrick Montez Daniels, as well as their "caretaker," Billy Taylor, Jr., who claimed the owner did not provide the dogs with adequate food or other necessities.
"We were grateful to be able to respond to this situation, and for the agencies who assisted us," said Deputy Lynn Schlup of the Washington County Sheriff's Office, who contacted the ASPCA for assistance.
On January 5, 2011, the abused dogs got their day in court. Daniels and Taylor were each convicted of 26 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty. Daniels was sentenced to five years in state prison and five years of probation, while Taylor was sentenced to one year in county jail and nine years of probation.
"Thanks to the diligence of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and Deputy Lynn Schlup, the defendants were held accountable for the pain and suffering they have caused these innocent animals," Rickey said after the sentencing. He added, "These dogs were not only starved of food and affection, but used to breed and fight each other to the death. I’m glad justice is being served."
To learn more about dog fighting, please visit our section on Blood Sports.