COLUMBIA, S.C.—Yesterday, the Humane Society of the United States assisted the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General with the seizure of 275 dogs from an alleged dogfighting operation throughout multiple properties in the Columbia, South Carolina, area. South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, non-profit organization Bark Nation, and several licensed veterinarians also assisted with the seizure.
Federal officials served search and seizure warrants on 10 properties around 9 a.m. on Sept. 25. The dogs were found living outdoors in pens or on chains with barrels or other makeshift shelters as their only protection from the elements. Many of the dogs were thin and had no apparent access to food or water, despite the sunny and hot weather.
Responders observed dogs with severe scarring, as well as festering open wounds, lacerations and abscesses. Several dogs who were penned or chained to trees in the woods were deemed critical due to the severity of their wounds and were immediately removed from the properties for emergency veterinary care.
Some dogs eagerly greeted responders with wagging tails and kisses, while others hunched over and peered reluctantly at the responders.
“It’s truly distressing to come upon dogs who are severely injured yet chained to trees or left to languish in a pen instead of getting the care they desperately need,” said Adam Parascandola, vice president of the animal rescue team for the Humane Society of the United States. “Thanks to all the agencies who intervened on behalf of these dogs, this is the last day they’re going to have to live like this.”
This operation is part of an ongoing investigation by the USDA OIG and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division. U.S. Attorneys Jane B. Taylor and Elle E. Klein are prosecuting the case. It is a felony punishable by up to five years in federal prison for fighting dogs or for possessing, training, selling, buying, delivering, receiving or transporting dogs intended for use in dogfighting.
Dogfighting causes severe and often fatal injuries. The dogs used in the majority of these fights have been specifically bred and conditioned for fighting, which is only the beginning of a lifecycle of abuse and mistreatment.
Typical dogfighting injuries include severe bruising, deep puncture wounds and broken bones. Dogs used in these events often die of blood loss, shock, dehydration, exhaustion or infection hours or even days after the fight.
The dogs rescued from these locations in South Carolina are being transported to safe, undisclosed locations operated by the various agencies involved where they are receiving much-needed care and treatment. RedRover is assisting with the daily needs of the approximately 45 dogs who the HSUS is caring for.
- Kirsten Peek