ASPCA Appoints Animal Fighting Specialist Terry Mills to Combat Blood Sports in U.S.

<p>New Research Supports Need to Tackle Cruel, Illegal Practice of Animal Fighting</p>
December 13, 2010

NEW YORK--The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) announces the appointment of Terry Mills as Animal Fighting Specialist to provide training to law enforcement officials and investigate blood sports, such as dog fighting and cockfighting, across the country. Mills will collaborate with law enforcement and other agencies to spearhead investigations involving blood sports as part of the ASPCA's Field Investigation and Response team.

According to a recent blood sports poll conducted by the ASPCA, one in every 10 Americans suspects that someone they know is involved in organized animal fighting, a notable statistic considering that animal fighting is an underground, illegal activity. Additionally, the survey reveals that more than half--51 percent--of respondents are aware of the connection between organized animal fighting and other serious crimes, and 81 percent of the general population say that more resources are necessary to stop animal fighting, particularly training for law enforcement.

"As the public learns more about this issue, the ASPCA is being called to respond to more blood sports investigations than ever before," said Tim Rickey, senior director of ASPCA Field Investigations and Response. "Terry's background will be a vital resource in training law enforcement to combat this cruel form of animal abuse."

Mills is widely known in the animal welfare community for his work with the Missouri State Highway Patrol on the federal dog fighting raid in 2009, which covered eight states and resulted in 26 arrests and the seizure of more than 400 dogs. Prior to the raid, he spent 18 months as an undercover officer, gaining access to the underground world of organized dog fighting and collecting extensive evidence. His efforts ultimately helped eliminate one of the largest dog fighting operations in U.S. history and resulted in federal indictments in six districts and state charges in nearly a dozen counties in Missouri. Mills received the ASPCA's Law Enforcement Officer of the Year award in October 2009.

Prior to joining the ASPCA, Mills spent more than 30 years with the Missouri State Highway Patrol, where he investigated major crimes and participated in undercover operations involving narcotics, terrorism, and gang-related activities. His background in undercover work helped him infiltrate an outlaw motorcycle gang and various drug organizations throughout the United States.

"Often times, drugs, weapons, and other illegal activities are linked to organized animal fighting," added Rickey. "Although animal fighting is illegal, people continue to participate in this brutal sport. The ASPCA created the blood sports unit not just to rescue animal victims, but also to help prevent other serious crimes. Terry's background will undoubtedly help the ASPCA protect both animals and people."

The ASPCA's Field Investigation and Response team responds to large-scale animal cruelty operations and natural disasters and in 2010 investigated nearly 120 cases including dog fighting incidents and one of Florida's largest cockfighting seizures of 650 fighting roosters.