ASPCA Announces 2018 “Champion for Animals” Award Recipients Recognizing Extraordinary Efforts to End Dogfighting

National award honors individuals and organizations in North Carolina, Iowa, and District of Columbia for their outstanding efforts to tackle dogfighting and help its victims
April 6, 2018

New York—The ASPCA® (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) today announced the recipients of the third annual ASPCA “Champion for Animals” award, honoring organizations and individuals who have shown outstanding dedication to end dogfighting in their communities. The announcement comes in advance of National Dog Fighting Awareness Day on April 8, an annual event created to highlight the brutality and pervasiveness of dogfighting in America.

The 2018 ASPCA “Champion for Animals” recipients are:

  • Cedar Bend Humane Society for playing a significant role in helping the ASPCA find safe and loving homes for countless victims of dogfighting and educating its community about important animal cruelty issues. As a dedicated ASPCA Response Partner, Cedar Bend has gone above and beyond last year in supporting the ASPCA’s efforts to end dogfighting and help animal victims of cruelty and neglect find the homes they need and deserve.
  • Detective James Keller of the Jacksonville Police Department for his diligence investigating a dogfighting operation in the Onslow County area. Detective Keller worked in coordination with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other agencies on a case in which 155 dogs were rescued from multiple properties in December 2016. The investigation resulted in the federal indictment of ten subjects on dogfighting and drug-related charges. Detective Keller continues to investigate dogfighting cases in his community.
  • The Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Justice Department for their commitment to enforcing the Animal Fighting Prohibition Act and increased dedication to prosecuting federal animal fighting cases. Through ENRD’s collaboration with investigatory agents across the Justice Department, 10 individuals have been indicted on federal animal fighting charges and nearly 700 dogs have been rescued from federal dogfighting cases in the last two years. In addition, the number of animal fighting investigations overseen by the Justice Department nearly doubled from 2016 to 2017, and more than 200 federal, state and local investigators have received animal fighting training, ensuring they have the resources needed to properly identify, investigate, and prosecute dogfighting throughout the country.

“Dogfighting is one of the most heinous forms of animal abuse, forcing dogs to live their entire lives on heavy chains and brutally fight other dogs as dogfighters profit from their torture,” said Stacy Wolf, senior vice president of the ASPCA’s Anti-Cruelty Group. “Individuals and organizations recognized for this award have demonstrated steadfast commitment to ending the suffering of these dogs and stamping out this barbaric blood sport. From investigating and prosecuting dogfighting to finding homes for rescued animals, law enforcement, prosecutors, and animal welfare agencies have made this issue a priority, sending a clear message that dogfighting will not be tolerated in our country.”

According to a newly released ASPCA national poll measuring the gap between the public’s awareness and understanding of dogfighting and its prevalence in the U.S., most people (57 percent) believe dogfighting never happens in their community, fewer than one-third (31 percent) are very confident they would recognize the signs of dogfighting, and only about half (53 percent) reported suspected activities to local authorities (while 25 percent did nothing).

Since 2010, the ASPCA has assisted with approximately 200 dogfighting cases in at least 24 states, and has impacted nearly 5,000 victims of dogfighting through rescue, consultations and investigations. Despite being a felony in all 50 states, dog fighting continues to be a popular underground activity, and the ASPCA estimates that there are tens of thousands of dogfighters in the U.S.

National Dogfighting Awareness Day was established by the ASPCA to raise awareness about the prevalence of dogfighting in the United States, reveal little-known truths about the blood sport, and encourage animal lovers nationwide to act against this brutal form of animal cruelty. To learn more about the signs of dogfighting and how you can help, visit