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April 4, 2013

Four Suspected Dogfighting Operations Raided in California

Investigation Led to Apprehension of Suspects Involved in Massive Mississippi Bust

The Humane Society of the United States assisted the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office, Placer County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in a large-scale dogfighting investigation and raid involving four properties and resulting in the arrest of four suspected dogfighters and the seizure of 18 dogs. The sheriff’s office also found suspected dogfighting paraphernalia when executing the search and seizure warrants.

The suspects have ties to those involved in the massive dogfight that was raided by authorities in Benton County, Miss., on Easter Sunday, according to the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office. Two of the individuals now in custody are suspected of having attended the dogfight in Mississippi and evading authorities by fleeing back to California.

“Dogfighters operate on a national scale, so it took the cooperation and dedication of many agencies working with The Humane Society of the United States to accomplish the successes in California and Mississippi this week,” said Chris Schindler, manager of animal fighting investigations for The HSUS. “We are grateful for the leadership of the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office on this case, and we hope this sends the message that law enforcement all across the country is taking dogfighting very seriously.”

The HSUS assisted law enforcement in the investigation and with identifying and documenting evidence in this case. Sacramento County Animal Control coordinated the animal rescue effort, including handling and documenting the dogs.

Participating in animal fighting is a felony under federal law. Over the past decade, Congress has closed major loopholes and strengthened penalties in the federal animal fighting law, but has left the issue of spectators unaddressed. H.R. 366, the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act, would outlaw spectators’ willful attendance at organized animal fights and impose additional penalties for bringing a child to an animal fight. In 49 states, it is a crime to be a spectator at a dogfight, and we need a strong federal law to complement the state laws in cases that are multi-state and multi-jurisdictional.

Facts:

  • Dogfighting is a felony in all 50 states.
  • Under California law, it is a felony to own, possess, keep or trains any dog for the purpose of fighting, to stage a dogfight, host a dogfight on your property, or be a spectator at a dogfight
  • Penalties for dogfighting in California are 16 months, two years, or three years in state prison and/or up to a $50,000 fine for principals
  • 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.

Media Contact: Stephanie Twining, 240-751-3943, stwining@humanesociety.org

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