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The HSUS Assists Sullivan County (Tenn.) Sheriff’s Department in Dogfighting Investigation

Three arrested in suspected dogfighting operation, two also face charges for aggravated child abuse, aggravated child neglect, and aggravated child endangerment

The Humane Society of the United States worked closely with the Sullivan County Sheriff’s Department in the investigation and raid of an alleged dogfighting operation in Kingsport, Tenn. The HSUS’ Animal Rescue Team removed four dogs, some with scarring consistent with dogfighting, from the property and assisted law enforcement with the identification of dogfighting paraphernalia on the scene.

Travis Trent, his father, Van Trent, and cousin, Alex Thurston, were all charged with animal fighting. Animal fighting is a Class E felony in Tennessee and can carry a prison sentence of up to six years. The jury may also access a fine of no more than three thousand dollars. Both Travis and Van Trent have been previously charged with aggravated child abuse, aggravated child neglect and aggravated child endangerment.

“The Sullivan County District Attorney’s Office will diligently prosecute all dog fighting and animal cruelty cases,” said Julie Canter, assistant district attorney for Sullivan County. “We are grateful for the assistance of The Humane Society of the United States in these matters.”

The dogs are currently being housed in an undisclosed location and The HSUS will provide ongoing enrichment for the dogs as this case awaits trial.

“It was very clear that the owners of these dogs had longtime ties to organized dogfighting and other criminal activities,” said Janette Reever, deputy manager of animal fighting investigations. “The dogs we found have been suffering in this blood sport for years and we commend the Sullivan County Sherriff’s Department for taking swift action in this case.”

Dogfighting Facts:

  • Dogfighting is a felony in all 50 states.
  • Dogfighting is a Class E felony in Tennessee those involved can receive up to six years in prison, a fine of no more than $3,000, or both. 
  • The HSUS estimates that 40,000 people follow organized dogfighting circuits across the U.S. while an additional 100,000 meet on neighborhood streets, alleys and hideaways.
  • A Chicago Police Department study showed that 65 percent of people charged with animal abuse crimes — including dogfighting — were also charged with violent crimes against people.


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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.


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