Multistate Dog Fighting Ring Busted, 225 Dogs Rescued

Jennifer Deutschmann - Author

Dec. 23 2014, Updated 9:57 a.m. ET

A multistate dog fighting ring was busted by authorities in Baltimore, Maryland. Officials with the Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office confirmed 22 people were indicted on numerous charges, including animal cruelty. In addition to more than 20 weapons, authorities confiscated 225 dogs and puppies.

As discussed by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty To Animals, organized dog fighting became popular in the 1860s. Although the cruel sport is illegal in the United States, it remains a widespread issue.

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There are several reasons why dog fighting remains a popular “sport.” However, a majority of the participants are driven by greed. During a single match, “it is not unusual for $20,000 – $30,000 to change hands.”

Although dog fighting is often associated with other crime, including money laundering, the most disturbing aspect is the animal cruelty. In preparation for the brutal competition, the dogs are conditioned to fight to the death.

The fighting dogs are often trained using live “bait,” which includes chickens, cats, and other small animals. According to the ASPCA, trainers also use isolation, physical abuse, starvation, and stimulant drugs to increase the dogs’ aggression.

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Dogs who “come from valuable bloodlines” and have a history of winning fights may be spared and used for breeding. However, the losing dog is often punished or even killed.

As reported by CBS News, a total of 18 locations were raided in the most recent dog fighting ring bust. Officials confirmed that the massive dog fighting ring extended to New York, North Carolina, and multiple locations throughout Maryland.

During the raids, authorities recovered 175 adult dogs and 50 puppies. Although many were taken to local shelters, it is unclear whether they can be rehabilitated.

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As discussed by the ASPCA, the dogs are “bred and trained to inflict injuries on other dogs.” Although they have the capacity to bond with humans, the dogs can be “extremely dangerous” with other animals.

To assess the seized dogs’ ability to adapt, rescue organizations perform a standardized evaluation. The evaluation includes several scenarios which test the dog’s level of aggression.

In some cases, rescued fighting dogs may develop aggressive behaviors later in life. Therefore, those who adopt the seized dogs must consistently monitor their behavior. If the dogs display obvious signs of aggression and are unlikely to adapt, they are often euthanized.

Baltimore police spokesman Lt. Eric Kowalczyk said rescue organizations are “making every effort to rehabilitate” the seized dogs “and place them for adoption.”

Authorities confirmed 22 indictments were handed down as a result of the dog fighting ring bust. Each indictment includes felony charges of animals cruelty and neglect, aggravated cruelty to animals, and dog fighting conspiracy.

[Image via Shutterstock]


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