31 dogs seized from dog-fighting ringPublished 8:34pm Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Law enforcement from New Site and Alexander City, Tallapoosa County Sheriff’s deputies, Alabama State Troopers, and Humane Society officials announced Tuesday the culmination of a more than 16-month investigation into a dog-fighting ring in Alexander City and New Site.
The operation resulted in the arrest of four men and the rescue and seizure of 31 dogs. Vehicles, narcotics, guns and money were also seized from three locations on Thomas Road in Alexander City and the 12100 block of Alabama Highway 22 East in New Site.
Many of the dogs had scarring and injuries consistent with dog-fighting and were found chained to stakes. McKelvey said the remains of other dogs were found around all three sites.
“We’re determined to put an end to the barbaric practice of dog-fighting in our state,” said New Site Police Chief John McKelvey. “We couldn’t have saved these dogs without the help of the Humane Society of the United States and the Montgomery Humane Society.”
Further arrests related to the probe are likely in the future, McKelvey added.
Mia Chandler, director of the Lake Martin Area Humane Society, helped with the handling of the dogs and puppies seized. She was “absolutely appalled at the environment the animals were forced to live in, the condition they were in and the fact that they were right in our back yards in this small community.”
“The sheer volume of the animals was offensive,” Chandler said. “It was eye-opening and alarming.”
McKelvey said the multi-agency investigation has in progress for 16 to 18 months. One sight had already been raided on dog-fighting charges as recently as September of last year.
The dogs that were rescued in what McKelvey called “deplorable” conditions are being housed and treated by veterinarians at an undisclosed location.
Investigators and personnel from the Humane Society of the United States in Washington D.C. and Jacksonville, Fla., flew in to assist with the probe, McKelvey said.
“Today marks the beginning for these dogs – they’ll never again have to fight for entertainment or live at the end of a chain,” Janette Reever, deputy manager of animal fighting investigations for the HSUS, said. “We’re grateful to Alabama law enforcement for their continued efforts to end dogfighting and for allowing us to help rescue these dogs.”
The New Site Police Department, Alabama State Police, Alexander City Police Department, Tallapoosa County Sheriff Department, Alabama State Troopers Aviation Unit, Alabama Beverage Control Narcotics Unit, District Attorney Office 5th Circuit, Alabama Marine Police, Tallapoosa County Narcotics Task Force and the U.S. Marshals Service were all involved in the rescue.
The investigation is unrelated to the larger multi-state dog-fighting ring that has recently made news across the southeast, McKelvey said.
Chandler said the dogs’ temperament varied, with some “incredibly happy to see us.”
“Some were wagging their tails, somes of them were incredibly timid, and many we had to cautiously approach and earn their trust before we could handle and transport them,” Chandler said. “But there were many that have a chance, I believe, that have a chance at a normal life.”