In late September, a joint team of more than 60 federal and state law enforcement officers executed nearly two dozen warrants for various properties in the Midlands area in what is believed to be the biggest takedown of a dogfighting operation in South Carolina history.
On Saturday, officers with the operation interrupted a scheduled dogfighting match in Richland County. The following morning, the officers executed 23 search warrants at various residences and properties in Richland, York, Orangeburg, Clarendon, Lee, and Sumter Counties that were known dogfighting kennels or associated with dogfighting.
In total 305 dogs were rescued over that weekend, with 275 believed to be associated with dogfighting. The Humane Society of the United States and Bark Nation supported the operation by assisting with animal handling and are currently assisting with the care of the animals. During the weekend operation, officers seized approximately 30 firearms, $40,000 in cash, and various evidence related to dogfighting. More than 20 individuals were arrested for state charges relating to animal cruelty and dogfighting.
“To force dogs to fight, often to the death, for the enjoyment of others is not only a federal crime, it is also cruel, sadistic, and can create a haven for other illicit activities involving drugs and firearms,” said U.S. Attorney Adair F. Boroughs. “This joint operation, which has been months in the making, makes clear that dogfighting operations will find no refuge here in South Carolina.”
The Animal Welfare Act makes it a felony punishable by up to five years in federal prison to fight dogs or to possess, train, sell, buy, deliver, receive, or transport dogs intended for use in dogfighting.
“Even after the many years we have worked to protect dogs from the calculated brutality that dogfighting perpetuates, our responders are still struck by the resilience of these dogs who have suffered unthinkable cruelty,” said Kitty Block, President and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. “We are grateful to the federal and state officials for intervening on behalf of these dogs and for the opportunity to work together to get them the care they deserve.”
Authorities say the investigation into dogfighting in South Carolina continues.