The HSUS, Police Break Up Dogfight Attended by Hundreds in South Carolina

By on August 24, 2015 with 31 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

In a dramatic action, The HSUS was on the scene yesterday in Chester County, South Carolina, assisting local authorities in breaking up a massive dogfight—an event that Chris Schindler, animal fighting manager at The HSUS, described as being “likely one of the largest if not the largest dogfights ever taken down.”

Using intelligence provided by The HSUS, officers of the Chester County Sheriff’s Office and York County Sheriff’s Office entered the property overnight as the dogfights were in progress, just in time to recover four dogs, including the winning dog from a match that had just taken place, and the losing dog that the dogfighters were about to kill.

“Hundreds of people were in attendance – I’ve never seen anything like it before,” said Chris who’s been involved in raids on multiple illegal dogfights during his career with The HSUS. Authorities arrested three alleged dogfighters who had brought dogs to the fight from North Carolina, charging them under the state law that The HSUS worked to enact some years ago. We expect other arrests to follow.

The pit location appeared to be a permanent set up, with lighting throughout the makeshift facility. There even were lights strung the entire way throughout the pathways down to the pit. Numerous firearms were found tossed throughout the area as well as narcotics, proving an oft-cited observation: operations that exploit animals in this way are often tangled up with other illegal enterprises. There were also the tools of the trade seized on site, including medical kits, scales for pre-fight pairings of dogs, and breaksticks (which separate the dogs when the handlers decide that’s needed).

Unfortunately, none of the spectators were arrested as they fled the scene. Dogfighting is a felony in all 50 states, but in South Carolina, spectators only face a misdemeanor charge for the first and second offenses. Oddly enough, penalties for being a spectator at a cockfight are higher. This is a circumstance in South Carolina law we’ve been working to correct, and we now have plenty of evidence to demonstrate why it’s needed.  In a majority of other states, attendance at a dogfight is a felony, and we could have worked with law enforcement to round up the whole sorry bunch of people involved in this criminal enterprise.

All of the dogs removed from the property, including two who were severely injured, will receive veterinary treatment. Congratulations to The HSUS’s Animal Rescue Team and law enforcement authorities in Chester and York counties for their hard work and initiative in breaking up this fight and ensuring that these dogs will never again have to participate in a fight. For dogfighters, including those who were not charged, you’ll have no rest and no security, since The HSUS will be after you until the last pit is raided and shuttered.

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31 Comments

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  1. Laura Healy says:

    Thanks to everyone involved in rescuing the dogs and those committed to identifying/prosecuting the perpetrators! Great job!

  2. Mark says:

    Glad to hear this was raided and shut down, but kind of police force lets 300 spectators get away? They must have known they would be there, and should have planned accordingly with a sufficient number of officers and equipment to arrest them all. They will simply move on to the next one. I would be demanding that heads roll if the police here were so grossly incompetent and unprepared.

  3. Lucy Kaplan says:

    I am relieved to learn of the takedown, and deeply grateful to law enforcement and HSUS for the intelligence-gathering and coordination of effort involved. But when I learn of what is now described as the takedown of the largest organized dogfight on record, I wonder, with real anguish, why legislation, fundraising, public education, and expert law enforcement, in this area of savage cruelty, have not succeeded in preventing something of this scale from happening in the first place. And I am not appeased by statistics that may exist to suggest that perhaps the frequency or geographic scope of dog fighting is decreasing, because if efforts, to date, have not yet touched the impulse, in large numbers of humans, to engage in organized dog fighting, periodic “improvements” on the ground mean very little for the future. Without deeper change, and real strides in according animals actual rights (beyond mere protections), no improvement is stable, and atrocities like the one described here are definitely going to continue. The only organization, today, that seems to be genuinely concerned about the absence of stable change for the animals is Responsible Policies for Animals (RPA). I so wish that HSUS would take a look at what RPA is saying about all this, so that we could all, for a change, break the endless pattern of self-congratulation for isolated “victories,” and move forward to REAL and irreversible liberation for the animals.

  4. Laura Garvine says:

    I was wondering if any of the creeps that got away got to take their dogs with them or were you able to get all the dogs that were on site? I was also wondering if there were any pictures taken of any of the spectators so they could be arrested and/or charged later. Thank you for breaking this up! From the post, it looks like you definitely saved one life, probably many more. =)

    • Vaishali Honawar says:

      Hi Laura, I am the blog editor. All dogs found on the scene were seized and are being housed at an undisclosed location to protect their safety. At this time the investigation is still ongoing so are unable to release any additional information related to the case. As we are able we will release additional information if approved. Thanks.

  5. Sharlene Somerville says:

    Thank you! We must stop this cruelty.

  6. Christine Zois says:

    NO ARRESTS ?? DID I MISREAD THIS OR MISUNDERSTAND THE ARTICLE ?

  7. terry says:

    Something needs to be done. I am shocked to learn that SC is the only state where dogfighting is not a felony.
    We need more people to know about this horrible situation in our state.

  8. Denise Howell says:

    Congratulations and thank you for your great work and commitment. This has to be very hard for you -to see such cruelty that is beyond my comprehension.

    I’m grateful to you. If you ever think people don’t notice or care -we do! I do!

  9. Fanchon says:

    Thank you for helping these dogs.

  10. Alisyn says:

    Thank you for all you do for the dogs! Tougher laws must be implemented and enforced. This is a horrific bloodsport and those who participate in it by organizing, attending, or providing dogs must be held accountable for the abuse, torture and killing of these innocent lives.

  11. Anne Grice says:

    The US needs active “task forces” to focus only on dog fighting across the country to sweep up and clean out these criminals involved in this scourge to dogs. This is a despicable cruel trade which demands a higher level of Law enforcement recognition by the Mayors. A continued focus would destroy their bases, dismantle their evil configuration and take away their dogs making it difficult to restart their abhorrent trade. Even though professional people attend these vile places, Mayors need to show courage, leadership & integrity to make 2015 the year that this repugnant trade was obliterated from the USA. Time to act now good Mayors of the US, clean up the cities!

  12. Diane says:

    Thank you for finding out about this and stopping it!!! states need stricter laws to enforce against those who fight dogs, or are spectators!!! Hats off to you all for saving these babies!

  13. Chris says:

    thank you so much for saving these precious babies that just want love and attention. Unfortunately, all they have received thus far is abuse. I’m hoping they will get to live the rest of their lives knowing what love really is. Great job!!!!

  14. Brenda Hixenbaugh says:

    The spectators are just as guilty as the low life scum that do these disgusting vile crimes and they basically should all get the same punishment. Of course they won’t get the sentence I believe they need and deserve, execution.
    ” We are euthanizing the wrong animals!” any so called human being that can sit and watch the pain, fear, and suffering that is done to any innocent creature, is nothing more than a disease that is contaminating this planet.These are victims,not an entertainment! Living feeling creatures, that are put into a ring for a bunch of waste of space cruel, vile, despicable, inhuman things to watch, being terrified, tortured, and murdered. These are the kinds of vile self serving that are pretty much the ruin of this planet. Perhaps they and other like them, will one day get their long and over due, just deserts! One can but hope. ” WE ARE EUTHANIZING THE WRONG ANIMAL! “

  15. Donna says:

    The whole sorry bunch should be in prison for good. Can’t believe so many people would go to something like that.

  16. Sharon says:

    SC laws sorely need to be strengthened. Also, not mentioned in the article, is the fact that those who have no regard for an animal’s life usually have no regard for a person’s life either. Great job to all who were involved in this endeavor. I hope it will bring more awareness and the start of stronger laws.

  17. Melissa Carlisle says:

    Is there anywhere people can look to see if their dog was one of the recovered dogs? TN has had a ton of dogs go missing and the van that was spotted was a shell company in SC when the tags were run. Please help us get some babies recovered if it’s possible!!!

    • Vaishali Honawar says:

      Hi Melissa, Unfortunately we cannot release images of the dogs to protect their safety. We can assure you that the dogs that were recovered were owned by the individuals arrested and were not stolen pets.

  18. ronni says:

    This is despicable

  19. Sharon B. says:

    So glad that you are bearing down on this horrific, barbaric so-called “sport”. These poor dogs are already getting a bad rap, and as if that is not enough, they have to fight to kill for sick, demented, perverts for a thrill!! Dog spelled backward is God, and He created these precious souls (YES, even pit bulls) for companions for us and I love animals of all kinds. I have had pets all my life since I was 6 years old. I will never understand why these butchers have to torture, kill, abandon, neglect and abuse these poor innocent beings. The laws need to be much more very strong, and the penalties need to be very stiff. Until we do that, this will always goes on. God Bless the Beasts…..and thank you HSUS for all you do. <3

  20. Peggy Ellison says:

    The dogs thank you for saving their lives and I, as well,. Thanks for all you do for animals world wide – very much appreciated.

  21. Susan says:

    I’m glad they broke this fight up and arrested people and saved these dogs. But I wonder where the home bases are of the fighters and if there aren’t more dogs in danger? I’m sure they must have more than the few dogs that were at this fight. I hope they’re all saved.

    • Cyndi Myatt says:

      That’s a good point Susan, hopefully the HSUS and law enforcement are looking into that! They may not only find several other dogs (and take them out of harms way), but with a search warrant they may find drugs and other incriminating evidence that will put these criminals away for even stiffer charges!

  22. Sarah McDonald says:

    Thank you HSUS for participating in this raid. Until S.C. passes some tougher laws on dog fighting I will not be spending my vacation dollars in S.C., i.e. Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head.

  23. Suzanne Mitchell says:

    Thank you for breaking up this horrid event and rescuing some of the victims. SC should be ashamed it is so lenient on animal abusers and those who are spectators to this bloodlust. I am a resident of SC and it embarrasses me that my state seems to turn a blind eye to animal abuse, no matter the type.

  24. Joe Martin says:

    All members of HSUS:
    Thank you for your service.

  25. Betty Echols says:

    Thankso to all LEO…..

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