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 11 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.

Coyotes need humane, scientific solutions to potential conflicts

By on September 23, 2022 with 5 Comments
Coyotes need humane, scientific solutions to potential conflicts

There is an aggressive group of anti-coyote propogandists emerging in many communities, as a recent article in the Los Angeles Times on the presence of coyotes in a dozen or so California localities suggests. The belligerence of these propagandists, and their disdain for best practices . . . 

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We’re honoring lawmakers for their efforts to save sharks and end the shark fin trade

By on September 20, 2022 with 1 Comment
We’re honoring lawmakers for their efforts to save sharks and end the shark fin trade

At a time when bipartisanship can be unpredictable in politics, it’s particularly gratifying to recognize four lawmakers who have joined together to advance one of the most urgent animal protection measures in the Congress, the Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act. This week, we’re honoring Senate . . . 

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California bear injured by arrow is first heartbreaking sign of cruel trophy hunting season  

By on September 19, 2022 with 15 Comments
California bear injured by arrow is first heartbreaking sign of cruel trophy hunting season  

Last week, residents of Arcadia, California, spotted a black bear they were used to seeing around the neighborhood. But this time, something was different. The bear was moaning and was clearly suffering; an arrow was sticking out of his flesh. This is a heartbreaking reminder . . . 

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A year after leaving the puppy mill, Rosie’s past still lingers 

By on September 15, 2022 with 5 Comments
A year after leaving the puppy mill, Rosie’s past still lingers 

Last December, we helped rescue three puppies who were surrendered by the American Kennels pet store in New York City in the wake of our undercover investigation. The investigation revealed that sick puppies were left to suffer or even die in the store and that . . . 

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How street dogs in Vadodara received the help they needed

By on September 13, 2022 with 1 Comment
How street dogs in Vadodara received the help they needed

On a bustling street in the city of Vadodara, India, a young local resident is pointing out dogs wandering among the traffic. She is with three animal care officers from Humane Society International/India, who are playing with the dogs, feeding them some treats and then . . . 

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For Fashion Week, let’s celebrate the brands putting fur out of fashion

By on September 9, 2022 with 9 Comments
For Fashion Week, let’s celebrate the brands putting fur out of fashion

I remember when fall fashion used to be practically synonymous with fur on the runways and in the stores of many of the top luxury brands. Not so, anymore. We’ve seen a paradigm shift over the past several years, with major company after major company . . . 

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New law aims to ensure that no family must choose between their pet and their home

By on September 7, 2022 with 5 Comments
New law aims to ensure that no family must choose between their pet and their home

Throughout the country, millions of people are experiencing a devastating housing crisis—and people with pets face special hardships when searching for a place to live. It’s still far too common that some rental properties have arbitrary restrictions about the allowed breeds or weight of companion . . . 

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How our shelter and rescue partners are essential to our work for animals

By on September 6, 2022 with 8 Comments
How our shelter and rescue partners are essential to our work for animals

Last week, we completed the massive accomplishment of placing nearly 4,000 beagles with animal shelters and rescues across the country, where they can begin a new chapter of their lives: becoming beloved family members. The operation to remove these beagles from a breeding facility in . . . 

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Breaking: Last beagle of thousands spared from testing arrives at our care center

By on September 2, 2022 with 50 Comments
Breaking: Last beagle of thousands spared from testing arrives at our care center

It wasn’t long ago that I witnessed the first van full of beagles arrive at our care and rehabilitation center in Maryland. On July 21, I was on hand to help welcome these dogs into a new and beautiful chapter of their lives, and I . . . 

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Stolen pet cats discovered among roughly 150 being sold into China’s meat trade

By on September 1, 2022 with 2 Comments
Stolen pet cats discovered among roughly 150 being sold into China’s meat trade

Chinese activists who fight the dog and cat meat trade see some pretty horrible sights in their work, and this is no less true of a recent rescue of 150 cats who were lured and trapped by thieves using wild-caught sparrows as bait. According to . . . 

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How we work to save animals (part 5): Building relationships

By on August 29, 2022 with 0 Comments
How we work to save animals (part 5): Building relationships

Note: This blog is part of our series highlighting how we fight—and win—for animals. This post focuses on how we’re creating a stronger animal protection movement through partnerships, trainings, support, collaboration and more. Previous posts have covered our advocacy efforts with governments and corporations, as . . . 

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