Friday, July 17, 2009

Raid Uncovers Dogfighting in Eight States


U.S. attorneys in four of the states announced indictments accusing the 26 suspects of animal cruelty ranging from denying animals medical treatment to shooting dogs in the head when they didn’t fight well. Depending on the state where the cruelty took place, the suspects can get anywhere from 18 months to 10 years in jail.

Laura Maloney oversees the ASPCA’s Humane Law Enforcement department, Government Affairs, and Veterinary Forensics, including the ASPCA’s Mobile Animal CSI Unit. She is no stranger to dogfighting investigations as she is also the senior vice president of the ASPCA’s anti-cruelty division. Recently, I spoke with Laura Maloney to get more information about the sting operation.

To begin, Maloney wanted to give kudos to the Humane Society of Missouri. She said the Humane Society had been conducting undercover investigative work on this dogfighting operation for the last 18 months. They were the principal organization that coordinated the simultaneous dogfighting raid last week. The Humane Society of Missouri called on the ASPCA to aid in accumulating forensic evidence and to help evaluate the seized dogs. The ASPCA were also the ones who conducted behavior evaluations on the fighting dogs in Michael Vick’s case.

While Michael Vick brought dog fighting into the public scrutiny with his arrest and subsequent prosecution, dogfighting in American is far from eradicated. Last week, officers from multiple federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies made 26 arrests and seized more than 400 dogs in Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska, Illinois, Iowa, Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas, in what is being considered the largest simultaneous raid of multiple dogfighting operations in the United States.