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August 07, 2012

Unchained: Nearly 50 Dogs Rescued from Suspected Fighting Rings

Yesterday, I mentioned that The HSUS’s Animal Rescue Team helped Michigan officials raid two suspected dogfighting operations in Kalamazoo and rescue nearly 50 dogs. At one property set back in the woods, dozens of dogs were living outdoors on heavy chains or in chain-link pens, without regular access to drinking water or shelter. One black dog was tethered to a chain weighing almost as much as she does.

Michigan dogfighting rescue
Kathy Milani/The HSUS
One of 46 dogs saved from suspected dogfighting rings
in Michigan.

Inside, the team discovered a basement with blood splattered on the walls and floor, along with equipment typically used for dogfighting. In spite of being valued only for their capacity to engage in violence, the animals were so friendly and happy to see us, as you can see in our video and photos from the rescue. At another location in a residential neighborhood, we helped rescue more dogs and document another area stained with blood.

All these dogs are starting new lives thanks to the work of Kalamazoo County Animal Services and Enforcement, which began an investigation after receiving tips from the community. We were glad to assist with the investigation, provide the services of our mobile crime lab, and set up an emergency shelter. Local law enforcement and SWAT teams were also on the scene, as well as Kalamazoo Humane Society and Hello Bully providing assistance.

The animals from both suspected fighting rings are now at the emergency shelter, some receiving veterinary care for broken bones or illness. Some are elderly; many have scars consistent with fighting. All of them are getting plenty of care and attention, and we’re already seeing shyer dogs start to open up to people. We’ll have each dog professionally evaluated for possible adoption through our Dogfighting Rescue Coalition.

The owners of both properties were arrested and charged with multiple felonies—one had been convicted on dogfighting charges in the past. It’s this sort of work that we do that makes our communities safer for animals and people. No one can participate in this sport and be an upstanding member of society. People who disregard the law and enjoy watching this kind of violence won’t confine that behavior to the pit bull ring. It will spill over into the rest of their lives, and into the lives of innocent people and their communities.

 

P.S. It’s people who turn these animals into combatants, and there’s not something inherent in pit-bull type dogs. That’s why The HSUS is working in the Maryland legislature to fix a recent court ruling that declares all pit bull-type dogs as “inherently dangerous,” and is supporting an effort in Miami-Dade County in Florida on next week’s ballot to repeal a ban on keeping pit-bull type dogs. Such rules are unenforceable, since so many animals have mixed ancestry. And it penalizes people who raise them properly. The Miami Herald got it just right in an editorial endorsing the Miami-Dade measure today. We need strong anti-dogfighting laws and dangerous dog rules, so we can concentrate on the callous, cold-hearted people who take pleasure in fighting animals.

P.P.S. We are also pushing legislation in Michigan to crack down on dogfighting as an organized criminal enterprise. It’s critical that lawmakers there pass that legislation soon.

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