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March 31, 2013

Authorities Raid Mississippi Dogfight in Progress

The Humane Society of the United States Assisted Authorities in Marshall and Benton Counties in Investigation and Rescue of 20 Dogs

UPDATE: 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 suspects have ties to those involved in the Benton County, Miss. dogfighting raid.

The Humane Society of the United States assisted the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office, Benton County Sheriff’s Office and Mississippi Bureau of Investigations in the investigation and raid on an active dogfight in Mississippi. The raid, which occurred in the overnight hours, resulted in the arrest of multiple alleged dogfighters and the seizure of 20 dogs, suspected dogfighting paraphernalia and an undetermined amount of cash.

Law enforcement agents entered the property as the dogfight was in progress and came under fire by several of the more than 200 attendees. The investigation is still ongoing for numerous individuals who fled from the scene. The raid was the outcome of a multi-agency investigation and involved tracking suspected dogfighters from around the country as they traveled to the match on a property in rural Benton County.

“We are pleased that our cooperative efforts in Mississippi resulted in the bust of a massive dogfight in progress and allowed us to rescue these dogs,” said Chris Schindler, manager of animal fighting investigations for The HSUS. “The Humane Society of the United States is proud to assist the dedicated officers in Marshall and Benton counties to crack down on a dogfighting ring that spanned the country.”

“Dogfighting is a despicable crime that will not be tolerated in Marshall County,” said Kelly McMillen, a major with the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office. “We are grateful for the assistance and expertise of The Humane Society of the United States and all the other departments involved to make this a successful case.”

The HSUS’ animal fighting experts assisted law enforcement in identifying and documenting suspected dogfighting evidence and forensic crime scene evidence, as well as coordinating the dog rescue effort. Other agencies that assisted with the investigation and raid are: U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office, Mississippi Highway Patrol and the sheriff’s offices of Hardeman and Fayette counties in Tennessee.

The HSUS removed the dogs to a temporary shelter and will provide the animals with veterinary treatment, care and enrichment. At least two of the dogs were found with extensive injuries consistent with dogfighting. It is The HSUS’ policy that all dogs seized from animal fighting operations be treated as individuals. Professionals will individually evaluate all of the dogs rescued from this operation for potential placement with HSUS Dogfighting Rescue Coalition placement partners.

Facts

  • Dogfighting is a felony in all 50 states.
  • 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 minor.
  • 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.
  • Rescue groups interested in becoming members of the HSUS’ Dogfighting Rescue Coalition should visit humanesociety.org/drc.

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

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