An investigation into a suspected dogfighting operation in Jefferson County, West Virginia, led to the rescue of 21 dogs and the seizure of dogfighting paraphernalia. The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department executed a search warrant at a residence in Kearneysville with assistance from Jefferson County Animal Control and The Humane Society of the United States. The dogs range in age from 10 months to early teens, and some have scars consistent with dogfighting. The authorities also found an area they suspected was used for staging fights and dogfighting paraphernalia.

“The suffering has come to an end for these dogs who have spent their lives tied to heavy chains or fighting for their lives,” said Janette Reever, deputy manager of animal fighting response for the HSUS. “Dogfighting is a serious crime that harms not only the dogs involved, but also the community at large. We are grateful to the Jefferson County authorities for being so proactive and dedicated in their efforts to root out this illegal bloodsport.”

"Dogfighting is illegal and cruel and will absolutely not be tolerated in Jefferson County,” said Jefferson County Sheriff Pete Dougherty. “We are thankful for the assistance and expertise of The Humane Society of the United States on this case, and happy to see these dogs receive the care and attention they needed.”

The HSUS assisted law enforcement in identifying and documenting evidence, as well as coordinating the rescue effort and removing the dogs from the property. The dogs will be held at a temporary shelter where they will receive needed veterinary care and enrichment. It is the HSUS’ policy that dogs seized from animal fighting operations be treated as individuals and evaluated for potential placement with HSUS Dogfighting Rescue Coalition placement partners.

Under West Virginia law, it is a felony to host a dogfighting venture, however it remains a misdemeanor to attend an animal fight. Stronger penalties are needed for those who fund this underground enterprise through entry fees and betting to fully crack down on all those involved.


  • Dogfighting is a felony in all 50 states.
  • 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

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