ST. LOUIS – As many as 350 dogs were seized and about 30 people arrested during raids in five states Wednesday that animal welfare groups are calling the largest simultaneous raid of dogfighting operations in the U.S.
U.S. attorneys in four of the states announced related indictments accusing 26 people of cruelties ranging from denying animals medical treatment to shooting dogs in the head when they didn’t fight well, then throwing their carcasses into a river or burning them in a barrel.
Task forces of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies conducted the raids and made arrests in Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Texas and Oklahoma following a more than yearlong investigation prompted by information gathered by the Humane Society of Missouri. It wasn’t clear whether the operations were related.
Kathy Warnick, president of the Humane Society of Missouri, said tips had come in from “multiple sources,” and anti-cruelty workers worked with federal authorities for 18 months.
Dogfighting is a felony in all 50 states.
The Humane Society of Missouri is sheltering more than 300 dogs seized in Missouri and Illinois raids, and their conditions are being assessed. The dogs will be housed, cared for and evaluated at an undisclosed emergency shelter in St. Louis.