April 1, 2011
The HSUS Helps Raid Suspected Animal Fighting Operation in Florida
Arrests made by Union and Bradford Sheriff’s Office, Starke Police Department B.U.S.T.E.D Unit, and Alachua County SWAT Team
The Humane Society of the United States worked closely with the Union and Bradford Sheriff’s Office, Starke Police Department B.U.S.T.E.D Unit, and Alachua County SWAT Team in the investigation and raid of an alleged dogfighter and cockfighter. The investigation is a result of a tip that came from The HSUS’ national animal fighting tip line.
In total, 24 dogs and an estimated 100 game fowl were seized from the Lake Butler, Fla. property on Friday. Eric S. Cox was arrested on suspicion of his connection to an animal fighting operation, a felony offense that could carry a penalty of up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Cox was also charged with witness tampering and possession of narcotics.
The HSUS Animal Rescue Team assisted with the investigation leading to Friday’s raid and provided assistance on scene with evidence collection and seizure. Rescue team members brought The HSUS’ mobile crime lab to quickly and accurately document evidence on the scene.
“Animal fighting is a criminal underground industry that breeds horrible animal suffering and violence,” said Chris Schindler, manager of animal fighting investigations for The HSUS. “We commend the Union and Bradford County Sherriff’s Offices, the Starke Police Department, and the Alachua County SWAT Team for taking action in this case and putting an end to the cycle of violence for these animals.”
The dogs and roosters have been transferred to a temporary shelter set up by The HSUS. The Okaloosa County Animal Services and St. John's County Animal Control were also on scene to help care for the animals.
The HSUS’ national tip line and Friday’s rescue were possible thanks to support from Companions’ Fund of the DuPage Community Foundation.
Animal Fighting Facts:
- The HSUS offers rewards of up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of any person involved in illegal animal fighting. The HSUS asks anyone with information about animal fighting criminals to call 877-TIP-HSUS (877-847-4787). Tipsters' identities are protected.
- Dogfighting is a felony in all 50 states.
- Cockfighting is outlawed in all 50 states and is punished as a felony in 39.
- Florida law states that all animal fighting is a felony offense.
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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the Web at humanesociety.org.