Officers from several agencies took part in the Saturday night raid of a dog fighting operation in western Georgia. Authorities arrested 34 people, and seized guns, more than $28,000 in cash and two dogs.
Several vehicles were also confiscated, including an Express Wings catering truck that was serving fried chicken to spectators.
“Our narcotics unit has worked on gathering intelligence on the event, and at a moment’s notice they rallied up and met at the training center where a briefing was conducted,” Meriwether County Sheriff Chuck Smith said in a statement, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“When the helicopter pilots hit their target with spotlights, participants and spectators ran into the arms of waiting officers holding a perimeter around the event.”
Smith said two female Pit Bull Terriers were taken into protective custody, one of whom was “emaciated, bleeding, crippled.” Both dogs were found inside a fighting pit.
“Animal Control Officer Beth Miller advised that she was hopeful that the dog found in this pit could be saved. I’m appreciative to her for assisting us,” Smith said.
According to Times-Herald.com this morning, Meriwether County Animal Control has good news about the injured dog from the veterinarian treating her: “Her wounds were recovering on antibiotics, she is eating again and gave the veterinarian some kisses.”
A few of the 34 people arrested were from as far away as Arkansas and Michigan, Smith said. One man was already wanted by U.S. Marshals on a federal indictment that accused him of previously fighting dogs.
Smith said those taken into custody are facing several charges, including cruelty to animals, conspiracy to commit or promote dog fighting, and illegal gambling.
“I am saddened by what I saw at this crime scene; however, I am very proud of all these law enforcement officers that were involved,” Smith said. “We know in the dog-fighting world, these events carry the highest potential of being extremely dangerous. All officers displayed the highest level of professionalism while showing ‘armed’ force to minimize the risk of getting hurt or hurting others.”
Last August, 367 Pit Bulls were seized in the second-largest dog-fighting raid in U.S. history. Twelve dog-fight operators were arrested in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Texas. The dogs were taken in by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Humane Society of the United States, and were expected to eventually be placed in loving homes.
Dog fighting is illegal in all 50 U.S. states. The largest crackdown on this crime was 2009’s so-called “Missouri 500,” when hundreds of dogs were seized in Missouri and seven surrounding states. There were more than 100 arrests in that raid.