September 14, 2009
Guilty Pleas Entered in Multi-State Dogfighting Raids
July arrests connected with rescue of 500 dogs
Guilty pleas have been entered in connection to the July 8, 2009 multi-state federal dogfighting raid that resulted in the rescue of more than 500 fighting dogs. Federal agents made 26 arrests, and dogs were rescued in 8 states. The Humane Society of the United States assisted in the initial rescue and sheltering of these dogs and has provided volunteers to assist with their prolonged care.
Guilty pleas in federal courts
According to news reports, four eastern Missouri men, Robert Hackman of Foley, Teddy Kiriakidis of Leasburg, Ronald Creech of Leslie, and Michael Morgan of Hannibal, pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in St. Louis to charges connected to the dogfighting raid. Another man arrested in connection with the dogfighting raid, Jack Ruppel of Eldon, pled guilty to charges on September 4 in federal court in Jefferson City.
This was the largest coordinated, multi-state dogfighting raid in U.S. history.
This was the largest coordinated, multi-state dogfighting raid in U.S. history. The Humane Society of Missouri (HSMO) participated in the 18-month investigation and led the subsequent rescue and shelter operations, working in partnership with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the United States Department of Agriculture's Office of the Inspector General, the U.S. Marshals Service and the United States Attorney.
500 dogs and puppies rescued in 8 states
The HSUS acted as lead animal welfare agency in the rescues in Texas and Oklahoma and assisted the HSMO with the rescues conducted in Missouri and Illinois. Dozens of HSUS experts and volunteers provided animal handling, transport, sheltering and documentation assistance. Many of the dogs rescued from these dogfighting operations were taken to the emergency shelter in specially designed animal transport vehicles provided by The HSUS.
Under contract with the USDA's Office of the Inspector General, the HSMO is managing the sheltering, veterinary care, behavioral evaluation and eventual placement of the 407 dogs rescued in Missouri and Illinois and the additional 100 puppies born since the rescue.
HSMO veterinarians conducted examinations of each dog and are providing daily veterinary care as needed. Dogs rescued from the properties associated with the persons who pled guilty exhibited numerous wounds and scars; one was missing lips; another was missing a leg. Many had internal parasites, ear infections and broken, worn or missing teeth.
Forfeiture of the animals is a separate federal court process that we anticipate should be completed in the next couple weeks. It is expected that the animals eventually will be placed in the custody of the HSMO, which will follow court orders regarding each animal.
The HSMO asks that qualified rescue groups or experienced individuals interested in providing permanent homes for the dogs contact the organization.