We’ve just assisted in the rescue of 275 dogs from what might be the largest sting of an alleged dogfighting operation in South Carolina’s history

By on September 26, 2022 with 33 Comments

Yesterday, we assisted federal and state law enforcement officers as they executed nearly two dozen search and seizure warrants at multiple properties in South Carolina in what is believed to be the biggest takedown of a suspected dogfighting network in the state’s history. When the day was over, state and federal agents had rescued 275 dogs.

For the dogs found on the end of heavy chains, some with horrific injuries consistent with being forced to fight, the rescue brings a lifesaving escape from nightmarish conditions.

Federal officials launched the sting on Saturday, interrupting a scheduled dog fight and rescuing 14 dogs. On Sunday, officials from federal and state agencies deployed to other sites where dogs suspected of being used for fighting were housed. Our teams were present at three of those sites to assist in the removal of dogs.

At those sites, our rescue team found one tragic scene after another: nursing mother dogs in wire hutches with no apparent access to water or food, dogs on heavy chains or in filthy pens. A number of dogs appeared to have suffered broken bones which had not healed properly—one young male dog had an apparently broken leg with infected puncture wounds. On another property where dogs were chained in a forested area, a black dog with a festering wound on his chest sat chained, apprehensively watching the rescuers approach. Our team members removed him immediately for urgent veterinary care.

A thin dog wagged her tail and pulled against the end of her chain to get closer to the rescuers, seemingly desperate for attention and affection from responders. When a member of our rescue team kneeled next to her, the dog nuzzled her head against the rescuer’s legs.

One curious nursing mother peered from her hutch, as her babies sat in empty food bowls, likely a desperate attempt to avoid having to stand endlessly on the harsh wire floor of the hutch, which was also soiled with feces.

Rescuers found haunting scenes on one of the properties: a pool of coagulated blood next to an empty collar still attached to a heavy chain; an empty pink collar attached to frayed rope hanging from a tree; a large battery with wires and clips attached to it. We cannot know how these objects were being used until this federal investigation is complete, but in the past, these kinds of objects have been used by dog fighters to kill dogs who refused to fight.

Some of the rescued animals had open wounds, lacerations and abscesses. Several dogs were deemed to be in critical condition due to the severity of their untreated wounds. One dog had wrapped his chain around a tree so tightly that he had virtually no room to move. Some had no apparent access to food, water or any shelter besides flimsy, overturned barrels. Many dogs’ bodies were scarred, and their body language—cowering, hunched shoulders, lowered heads and fearful, timid eyes—hinted at the treatment they had endured.

According to U.S. Attorney Adair F. Boroughs, this joint operation had been months in the making and involved the work of state and federal offices, the South Carolina governor’s office and a number of community partners.

With help from Bark Nation, we have now transported the dogs to undisclosed safe locations where they are receiving much-needed care and attention. RedRover is also assisting.

The complex coordination between these groups, our rescue team and the federal and state agencies involved in this operation shows that the saying “it takes a village” applies aptly to large-scale animal rescue efforts.

The injuries inflicted during dog fights are severe and often fatal. Typical dogfighting injuries include severe bruising, deep puncture wounds and broken bones. Dogs forced to fight often die of blood loss, shock, dehydration, exhaustion or infection hours or even days after the fight. The animals have typically been bred and conditioned for fighting, setting the stage for a lifetime of mistreatment, neglect and suffering.

Under the federal Animal Welfare Act, dogfighting is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison. The same goes for possessing, training, selling, buying, delivering, receiving or transporting dogs intended for use in dogfighting.

As distressing as it is to see the horror these dogs have endured, I find some peace in knowing they won’t have to suffer another day in these terrible situations—and that the people who engage in dogfighting anywhere in the country will see this sting operation as a warning to end their merciless and criminal activities.

Animal Rescue and Care, Companion Animals

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  1. Michele Koskinen says:

    I hope everyone responsible for these atrocities are found, convicted, and spend an excruciating number of years behind bars – preferably dirty ones!

    • Carmen says:

      I hope they get life sentence for cruelty and suffer the same or more than the dogs they killed.

  2. Judith Ann Sterling says:

    I am so happy to know their suffering is being addressed. 😥💔 This is so brutal and it seems never to be stopped. I hope whomever had this operation is brought to justice 🙏

  3. Kitty Power Duncan says:

    Where in SC? What county?

  4. Tonya says:

    This is the best thing that I have seen in a long time! I am so glad to see that these animals, I am speaking of the criminals that do this, are having to pay for their crimes. I hope to see more stories of these creep’s being arrested and these poor animals being rescued. Thank you for all that you do!

  5. Lorie Creel says:

    Will the dogs that were rescued be scanned for a microchip? I only ask because my Duke stolen on 11/12/2019 from my property in Effingham, SC. He was a blue male pitbull with a white chest. His microchip information is updated. I know it’s a long shot but I still look for him everyday.

    • Lindsey Novak says:

      When a person loves a dog, they don’t leave the dog outside unattended. Whatever they routinely do in SC, please know that the behavior is wrong. How do we teach people in SC to treat animals with kindness and true love.

      • lisa says:

        I’m sorry but I leave my dogs outside all the time unattended. They have a huge fenced in yard, access too plenty of water, and access to the garage and back porch.

    • daena says:

      I am so sorry and my heart is heavy for you. I hope and pray you are reunited with your beloved dog and he is NOT being used for this senseless, cruel and inhumane entertainment. I can hardly stand thinking about it.

  6. jessica hausman says:

    These Perps Must be brought to Justice, each and every one of them or this Will continue. It is unbelievable suffering and torture for these animals’ w/o hope for any future even if they are rescued. Permanent forever home shelters need to be set up for these animals most of which really will have slim hopes of getting adopted into a normal life after this experience. There can be some exceptions, but most of them must be able to live in safety with care and love in a shelter that is home for them.

    • Debbie says:

      Wouldn’t it be great if funding could be used to help low income families to be able to afford a dog? I firmly beleive that there would be so many more homes available if folks could afford pet food and veterinary care.

    • Linda Giese says:

      Micheal Vicks dogs that were fighters. Most have been rehabilitated! Some are Read To A DOG, they go into schools where kids can read to them without fear of pronouncing words wrong etc. Gives them confidence! Others are therapy, service dogs, many family pets! So IF THEY ARE RETRAINED PROPERLY MOST PROBABLY 85-90 percent can be good dogs! Vick got off EASY! Cuz he had millions to pay attorneys. His Bad News Kennel was over. He suffered no I’ll effects except a dent in his bank account. Maybe THIS TIME THINGS WILL BE DIFFERENT! I’ve rehabbed lots of pits. Dog agressive. Etc. Through alot of hours n training they got wonderful homes.

  7. Andrea Wayne says:

    🔷🔹Excellent work people, as dog fighting is barbaric and heinous.🔹🔷

    • Andrea Wayne says:

      🔷🔹Excellent work, thanks to Humane Society these dogs have new lives!🔹🔷

    • Donna Riggins says:

      True. I am so ashamed as a native South Carolinian to have something like this found in my state. Be aware and report any suspicions you have about these things happening around you and please don’t allow our pets and best friends to be tortured and exploited!

      • James houston says:

        I own a bully rescue and South Carolina is one of these worst states for dog fighting. We’ve rescued hundreds of pitbull type dogs the past 4 years from South Carolina. It’s bad in a lot of southern states Georgia and Louisiana are some of the worst. They need stricter laws in place to give harsher punishment to make it not worth doing. These guys are making money hand over fist gambling on the fights. With the pandemic and inflation people are looking for easy ways to make money. In the 4 years are rescue has been open we have seen some really horrible stuff.

        • M Leybra says:

          Up to 5 years in Fed prison is the Fed law, would like to know what state laws are, I presume. Good question, do they have any?

  8. Debi Newton says:

    How about publishing who was responsible for this atrocity? Perhaps we can write the judge and make a difference in the sentence that is handed down

  9. Alan Alejandro Maldonado Ortiz says:

    Gracias a Dios porque cada vez hay más gente comprometida con el bienestar de los animalitos e invierten su tiempo incluso dinero para tener en buenas condiciones a los animalitos

  10. Karin erker says:

    Stop diese brutalen hundekämpfe … was für grauenvolle tierquäler … haben die kein Gefühl für ein Lebewesen … die Menschen haben den Tieren die Hölle auf Erden gebracht … Hilfe für die Armen Hunde … danke für ihren Einsatz für die Hunde …♥️

  11. Ewa Urbanski says:

    Vielen Dank für Ihre großartige Arbeit für die Tiere .Alle die den Tieren so viel Leid
    zufügen sollten ganz hart bestraft werden damit sie nie mehr auf solche Ideen kommen

  12. Sandy Jones says:

    Where does one donate to help these dogs?

  13. Raelven says:

    What is the penalty? If it’s a minimal fine (I would consider under $100k minimal) or a few months jail time, it’s not going to change things. The penalty should be substantial, if this is going to be deterred.
    Glad these dogs were rescued. I hope they can be rehabilitated. I hope they are checked for chips or against missing dog reports. ❤️

    • M Leybra says:

      Supposed to be punishable by up to 5 yrs. in Federal prison. As long as the court judge isn’t Bubba’s third cousin.

  14. M Leybra says:

    So much for the gory details of so much animal suffering. Some of us would really like to know why the perpetrators had no fear of stiff sentences from past busts & hopefully an update on how many years they’ll each be sentenced to in the Federal pen (which has no parole) for ‘this bust.’ In order to deter any future of dog-fighting in So. Carolina, period.

  15. Karin Erker says:

    Stop dog fighting in Carolina … was sind das für herzlose, brutale Menschen sich das Grauen ansehen, wie sich Hunde zerfleischen … kaum zu ertragen, was man Tieren für schmerzen und leid zufügt nur zum Vergnügen … das muss von der Regierung verboten werden … wir müssen darum kämpfen, dass das tierleid verboten wird …

  16. Caridad Ochoa says:

    I would love to see updates of how the survivors have been recovering once they are safe and one day given loving, deserving homes. The process is a long and on going one but it is absolutely worth it for these sweet, innocent lives that just need patience and understanding. Showing these animals can be rehabilitated is amazing and I hope will continue to destroy the stigma that fighting dogs “cannot be saved”. I want to see them happy.

  17. Karin Erker says:

    Das ist so grauenhaft … das muss verboten werden … schrecklich … hoffe, sie können auch hier helfen mit vielen tierlieben Unterstützerinnen … danke an sie für die Rettung der Armen schönen Hunde …

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