See photo slide show of rescued dogs.
On July 8 federal agents swooped in to arrest 26 people in a dog-fighting ring that spread across eight states and involved hundreds of canines. The raid followed an 18-month investigation involving the FBI, the Humane Society, Missouri State Highway Patrol, the U.S. Marshals Service and other agencies.
Dog-fighting facts, provided by the Humane Society:
The True Cruelty of Dog Fighting:
What is dog fighting and why is it such a bad thing?
Dog fighting is a brutal, vicious, heinous crime, animal abuse at its absolute worst. It is often associated with other illegal activities involving drugs, weapons, gambling.
· The most aggressive male and female fighters are bred, sometimes forcefully.
· Training is rigorous using tread mills, often with smaller caged animals as bait. Dogs are also forced to swim for hours at a time in a pool or run behind a vehicle to build stamina.
· They spend their lives on the end of a heavy chain, often half of the dog's weight, to build neck strength.
· As early as four months of age the dogs are forced to begin "rolling" -- an abbreviated, controlled fight to find out if the dog has the fighting spirit.
· All the fights are brutal; dogs are encouraged to inflict as much damage to an opponent as possible. A dog fight can be short, if an opponent is quickly defeated, or as long as two hours ending in death, sometimes for both exhausted, bloody, injured dogs.
· Dogs that don't win often are brutally killed on the spot by hanging, drowning, strangling, electrocution, shooting or in other inhumane ways.
· Daily life is cruel, too. Often the dogs are kept in remote areas tethered to a 30 lb. heavy-gauge chain locked onto a 4" wide heavy collar. (Necks rubbed raw or embedded collars are common.)
· The water source is a dirty bowl filled with rain; so water, when available, is always filthy. For some, food may come only once or twice a week. Houses often are plastic or metal barrels with jagged doorways and little or no bedding.
· Because this activity is so underground, veterinary care is minimal. "Stop the bleeding and get back to the ring" is the rule, according to HSMO Animal Cruelty Investigators.
· Many dogs suffer from multiple wounds and scars; some have torn or missing ears; some are missing limbs. One dog from this rescue has no lips, her teeth perpetually showing.