Breaking news: Feds, The HSUS rescue 66 dogs from dogfighting operations in several states

By on June 1, 2016 with 33 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

This morning, at properties in five states as far afield as New Jersey and New Mexico, The HSUS assisted federal law enforcement agents in rescuing 66 dogs from a suspected dogfighting ring. Nine people have been charged with participating in an interstate dogfighting conspiracy. The news is breaking now, and authorities are withholding some information because the investigation is ongoing and other perpetrators may be brought to justice.

The case was called “Operation Grand Champion,” and was led by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of the Inspector General, the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of New JerseyThis is a major salvo and part of a coordinated effort across numerous federal judicial districts to combat organized dogfighting.

My colleague Chris Schindler, director of animal crimes for The HSUS, was on the scene at one location with our Animal Rescue Team. “These dogs are finally free from their lives inside dark crates or at the end of heavy chains,” Schindler told me. “Most importantly, they will never again have to fight to the death. We are incredibly encouraged by the federal government’s dedication to this case and to eradicating dogfighting nationwide. We are grateful to all the agencies involved that made these rescues possible.”

The HSUS assisted law enforcement in identifying dogfighting evidence and coordinating the rescue effort. We are working with St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center in New Jersey to help remove the dogs and transport them to safety. The dogs will be held at a temporary shelter in an undisclosed location, where they will receive needed veterinary care and enrichment. It is The HSUS’s policy that dogs seized from animal fighting operations be treated as individuals and evaluated for potential placement with HSUS Dogfighting Rescue Coalition emergency placement partners.

The federal Animal Welfare Act makes it a felony punishable by up to five years in prison to fight dogs or to possess, train, sell, buy, deliver, receive, or transport dogs intended for use in dogfighting, and The HSUS played the leading role in driving the enactment of the strong federal anti-animal fighting standards under which such crimes are now prosecuted. In fact, over the last decade and a half, we’ve worked with our allies in Congress to upgrade the federal animal fighting statute four times, addressing not only possession and training of fighting dogs but also making it a federal crime to attend or bring a child to an animal fight. We are grateful to see federal law enforcement officials putting these laws to work and protecting dogs from this kind of staged, intentional cruelty. We will keep you posted and share more information as it’s available.

Animal Rescue and Care, Companion Animals

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  1. Annoula Wylderich says:

    GO HSUS!

  2. John Thompson says:

    This is just AWESOME!! Great work!!

  3. Shemeika Becton says:

    Way to go!!!! XOXO

  4. Martha Mihara says:

    Good work HSUS!!

  5. Adele says:

    Awesome job HSUS!! Thankful these dogs are released from such cruelty and hope perpetrators receive justice.

  6. Lida calvert says:

    Thanks for all your hard work and for being a voice for these animals. Now let’s give the ones that did this the same abuse they gave these animals. Chains and cages and a fight to their death.

  7. Lucy Torres says:

    That is
    the best news in the world!!

  8. Sharon h says:

    HSUS does great work!! I hope those survivors are able to find loving homes and live a long, happy life . I don’t wish the same for Anyone involved in dogfighting . They should all be punished to the max and deal with karma.

  9. Rosa Joseph says:

    I really hope these dogs are really given a chance and are properly evaluated.
    You suggested to have all of Michael Vick’s dogs euthanized. Thank God the judge did not listen to your recommendation.

  10. Leslie says:

    Gotta Love HSUS

  11. Evelyn Lennon says:

    When will it end, for all animals? We must be their voice, for they have none. These people who conduct these inhumane fights are some sick and mentality deranged whatever you want to call them. The phrase we hear so often “if you see something, say something”. We must be their eyes and ears, and it is up to all of us, to protect them. It is only human, to help these helpless creatures. Thank you all so much for rescuing, an seeing that they get the love, an affection they deserve.

  12. brenda patterson says:

    Thank god something is finally being done

  13. Cheri Castillo says:

    I’m so relieved to see authorities organizing these busts and taking these crimes seriously. I thank them from the bottom of my heart.
    I do however worry about the future for these pups. I recall reading the Vick dogs first under the Human Society’s wing were recommending euthanasia saying the dogs weren’t capable of rehabilitation?
    Please don’t allow man to fail theses dogs again?! Bad Rap and Best Friends proved they can and did!
    Let’s allow these dogs to be placed with rescues and orginazations before the Human Society deems them aggressive and they face euthanasia.
    They were fighting dogs at no choice of their own, let’s give them a fighting chance for a lifetime of love now! Let’s not let egos get in the way, before making decisions to euthanize any of them, turn them over to groups with resources and determination to rehabilitate them. Dogs under this stress level will not likely pass temperament tests under the circumstances, they need extra care and understanding.

    • Jan Stevenson says:

      I think a lot has changed since the Vick case. Check out this link to Dogfighting Rescue Coalition:


    • DD says:

      I think the fighting dogs are major liabilities, while the bait dogs perhaps can be saved.

      One of Vick’s fighting dogs at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary got loose and KILLED another dog there. And another of Vick’s dogs (when I was there) was walking around and around his enclosure like a polar bear in a zoo. Only designated employees could care for him.

      I have a fighting dog, and he just tried to kill my big senior dog for the second time in three years (my old dog slid open my sliding glass door and landed in the yard with him), and I suffered severe injuries from breaking up the fight two weeks ago. He is a dangerous dog. It’s not fair to my other dogs. It’s not fair to me.

      While we all are deeply saddened and outraged that ALL the dogs/animals suffer in the fighting ring, it is not our fault. Save the dogs who are not a danger or a liability. There are PLENTY of them.

  14. Tina says:

    Awesome. I might have one in Daytona Florida. I have N address where dogs are being over bread and. Picture of one guy with a lot of money on his lap. I’d like it investigated

  15. Eryka evitts says:

    It is so cute!

  16. Jacquelinenoone Noone says:

    thank you,, it take a village for people to step up against this atrocity…

  17. Daniel Howell says:

    Nice Job!! big shout out to all agencys involved.

  18. Hannah says:

    Put them down and stop risking human lives. The experiment is over.

  19. Hannah says:

    Not humane to risk human lives.

  20. kathleen scherich says:

    My comment is not so “polite”. Execute the people who engage in dog fighting.

  21. Cyndi says:

    Now the “real” animals will be caged…great job HSUS (and all the volunteers and law enforcement who made this possible : ) I pray one day dog fighting will be a thing of the past!

  22. Ki says:

    Hannah.. Put them down.. what kind of answer is that.. they were forced to fight.. they deserve more.. we owe them more.. watch “The Champions’ about the Vic dogs.. they were not put down. They are amazing animals. Statements like yours are made in either fear or an amazing lack of humanity.
    I hope you or your loved ones are never in a position to have to fight for your life because that is what these dogs (who by nature ARE NOT vicious) are being forced to do.

  23. barry says:

    Put them in jail forevery.who do these people think they are.take everything these people have and give it to the dogs.the dogs have put up with this for to long.lets put a end to it now.if needed kill the people like they kill the dogs.

  24. K says:

    I believe they can be rehablilated, yes there will be some that will not be able to be rehabilitated. If you take on such a dog as one that cannot, be aware of the steps you need to go to keep the dog and anyone/ other animals safe. Maybe not have any other dogs/ cats? There are humane muzzles, high fencing, invisible fencing, collars, to help control and get yourself and dog, a good trainer and keep the training up daily. If the dog is human aggressive, they should not be adopted out. I believe the dogs are individuals, should be treated that way always. Stop the breed bans. Just get smart about the dog breed you want to adopt. Love the hard work the HSUS does.

  25. Tracey arnone says:

    Is there any New information on the 66 dogs that were rescued from operation grand champion there’s been nothing updated on the site since 2016

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