Kansas City, Mo.—At the request of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Missouri State Highway Patrol and the United States Attorney’s Office, the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®), in conjunction with the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office and Henry County Sheriff’s Office, assisted in a multi-state, federal dog fighting raid in Missouri, Kansas and Texas this past weekend. The ASPCA managed the removal and transport of nearly 100 dogs involved in the investigation, and is overseeing forensic evidence collection, as well as the dogs’ veterinary care and sheltering.
A search warrant was executed Saturday night in Kansas, after the FBI raided a location suspected of holding a contract dog fight in north Texas. The ASPCA and other agencies, including the Humane Society of North Texas (HSNT), assisted in the seizure of the dogs. Two additional warrants were served Sunday morning for the removal of the dogs in Missouri.
Matt Bershadker, senior vice president of the ASPCA’s Anti-Cruelty Group stated: “We are pleased to be able to assist federal, state and local agencies in such a massive investigation, and to safely bring the animals to our temporary shelter where they will receive much-needed care and treatment.”
The dogs were transferred to a temporary shelter in an undisclosed location where they will receive veterinary care from the ASPCA’s medical team, led by Dr. Sarah Kirk, medical director of ASPCA Field Investigations and Response. The HSNT will manage the transport of dogs seized from the Texas investigation. Agencies assisting the ASPCA with the sheltering operation include: Wayside Waifs (Kansas City, Mo.); International Fund for Animal Welfare (Yarmouth Port, Mass.); Nebraska Humane Society (Omaha, Ne.); Humane Society of North Texas (Fort Worth, Texas); Dallas Animal Services (Dallas, Texas); Sumter Disaster Animal Response Team (Bushnell, Fla.); and Great Plains SPCA (Merriam, Kan.).
The ASPCA Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) team, assisting under the direction of the FBI, is collecting forensic evidence to be submitted for prosecution. The CSI team brings state-of-the-art forensics tools and expertise to crime scenes in order to strengthen cases. The ASPCA will also collect DNA samples from the dogs and submit them to Canine CODIS (Combined DNA Index System), the nation’s first criminal dog-fighting DNA database, which will help law enforcement agencies identify relationships between dogs and enable investigators to establish connections between breeders, trainers and dog fighting operators.
The ASPCA was contacted for assistance by the FBI and the Missouri State Highway Patrol in the criminal investigation, evidence collection, rescue and sheltering efforts of the case. The ASPCA has assisted local and federal authorities in previous dog fighting cases, including the largest dog fighting seizure in U.S. history in Missouri in 2009, and the following year established its Blood Sports unit to investigate dog fighting and cockfighting across the country.
Dog fighting is a felony in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Additional illegal activities are often connected with dog fighting, such as drug and weapons violations. 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. For more information on the ASPCA’s efforts to tackle animal fighting and to join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade, please click here.