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January 29, 2014

No Sweet Home for Some Animals in Alabama

The HSUS’s Animal Rescue Team has been on the ground in Alabama cracking down on cruelty and rescuing animals, helping to seize roosters from a cockfighting ring in Covington County, and removing dozens of dogs from deplorable conditions in Fayette County, in separate cases within the last few days.

rooster rescued in Covington County
One of the roosters rescued Saturday evening.
Photo by Frank Loftus/HSUS

On Saturday night, our rescue team, alongside Alabama’s Alcohol Beverage and Control Board investigators, closed in on a suspected cockfighting ring in Andalusia while a fight was in progress, resulting in the arrest by authorities of six suspected cockfighters and the seizure of nine birds.

Alabama has the ugly distinction of having the weakest anti-cockfighting law in the country; its maximum fine of $50 for fighting birds in a public place is shocking and embarrassing. However, with a felony aggravated animal cruelty charge, all six men taken from the ring could face more severe penalties, including jail time. We’re hopeful that sort of charge will help put a stop to the barbaric practice of roosters being forced to fight to the death, with knives tied to their legs so that the animals can slash and kill other animals.  It marks a new offensive in our fight against cockfighting in states where it’s been treated like a parking violation in the past. Forcing two animals to kill and maim each other in staged combat is clearly malicious cruelty, and we hope other agencies elsewhere will follow suit and use these tools to root out animal fighting wherever it occurs.

dog rescued in AL rescue
One of the dogs rescued on Monday with Chris Schindler of the Animal Rescue Team
Photo by Megan Hellar

Just two days later, our team assisted in the court-ordered removal of dogs from a Berry, Ala. property. This rescue is part of an ongoing case we have been involved with since late October after our help was requested by local law enforcement; it involves 80 counts of animal cruelty against four individuals. Our efforts, alongside those of the 24th Circuit Drug Task Force, have ensured that more than 80 dogs will no longer be living in these deplorable conditions and instead will be going to several of our Emergency Placement Partners, where they can start the path to adoption into new, loving homes.

We work on the big-picture issues to prevent animals from ending up in distress, including our efforts in the current Farm Bill to make it a federal crime to attend or bring a child to an animal fighting spectacle.  But we also come to the aid of animals in crisis, assisting local groups and law enforcement agencies especially in areas where their resources are overwhelming by large cruelty cases. These actions in Alabama over the last few days illustrate that commitment occurs on a daily basis here at The HSUS, and that we are fighting every day to attack both the root causes and the symptoms of cruelty.   

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