305 Dogs Rescued, 20 Arrested in ‘Biggest Takedown of Dogfighting Operation’ in South Carolina’s History

305 Dogs Rescued, 20 Arrested in ‘Biggest Takedown of Dogfighting Operation’ in South Carolina’s History
File photo of pit bulls in East Ridge Animal Services shelter in East Ridge, Tennessee, on April 13, 2022. (Jackson Elliott/The Epoch Times)
Katabella Roberts

More than 300 dogs were rescued and 20 people are in custody in South Carolina after law enforcement officers executed what is believed to be the biggest takedown of a dogfighting operation in the state’s history.

The Department of Justice announced the results of the joint operation among over 60 federal and state law enforcement officers in a Sept. 26 statement.

The joint sting began on Sept. 24 when officers interrupted a scheduled dogfighting match in Richland County, according to the DOJ.

On Sunday morning, law enforcement officials executed 23 search warrants at multiple residences and properties in Richland, York, Orangeburg, Clarendon, Lee, and Sumter Counties that were “known dog fighting kennels or associated with dog fighting.”

During the weekend sting, a total of 305 dogs were rescued, of which 275 police believe to have been taking part in dogfighting, which is a felony offense under the Animal Welfare Act.

Under that law, fighting dogs are illegal, as is possessing, training, selling, buying, delivering, receiving, or transporting dogs intended for use in dogfighting. Violating the act is punishable by up to five years in federal prison.

The Humane Society of the United States, a nonprofit organization focusing on animal welfare, and Bark Nation, another nonprofit organization that aims to end canine cruelty, supported the weekend operation.

Both organizations are currently looking after the animals that were recovered, the DOJ said.

‘Cruel and Sadistic’

In a statement, The Humane Society said several of the dogs are in critical condition with severe untreated injuries while many of those recovered had not been given food and water while they were being kept for fighting.

Police also seized approximately 30 firearms, $40,000 in cash, and various pieces of evidence related to dogfighting during the weekend sting, officials said. More than 20 people were arrested on state charges of animal cruelty and dogfighting, authorities said.

“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 dog fighting operations will find no refuge here in South Carolina.”

“The depravity involved in carrying out a dog fighting conspiracy is unimaginable to most people, and those involved in such a crime must be rooted out and punished,” said South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster.

McMaster launched a dogfighting task force when he was attorney general in 2004.

“On behalf of all South Carolinians, I would like to thank the dedicated state and federal law enforcement officers who uncovered and disrupted this unspeakable cruelty. Our state is safer because of their hard work on this investigation,” McMaster added.

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