(WASHINGTON) — A three-year investigation and multi-state dog fighting bust resulted in the rescue of 367 pit bull terriers in Alabama and Georgia, according to officials.
“The dogs, ranging in age from just several days to 10-12 years, had been left to suffer in extreme heat with no visible fresh water or food,” the ASPCA said in a statement. “Many are emaciated with scars and wounds consistent with dog fighting, and some were tethered by chains and cables that were attached to cinder blocks and car tires.”
The bust also included the arrest and indictment of 10 people from Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and Texas for violating the federal dog fighting statute and the federal gambling statute, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Alabama.
Authorities also seized guns, illegal narcotics, drugs used to treat and train dogs and $500,000 from the dog fighters involved in the organization.
The defendants were betting between $5,000 and $200,000 on each fight, according to U.S. Attorney George Beck, Jr.
“The number of dogs seized and the amount of money involved in this case shows how extensive this underworld of dog fighting is,” Beck said in a statement. “These dog fighters abuse, starve and kill their dogs for the supposed ‘fun’ of watching and gambling on a dog fight. Their behavior is deplorable, will not be tolerated, and will be punished to the full extent of the law.”
In addition to the ASPCA and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the operation included the Auburn Police, FBI and the Humane Society of the United States.
The dogs were taken to temporary emergency shelters in undisclosed locations where they are receiving treatment, according to the ASPCA.
“Today we ended the torture of hundreds of abused and neglected dogs,” ASPCA president and CEO Matt Bershadker said in a statement. “Never again will these dogs be forced to fight, live in squalor, or be neglected and deprived of the bare necessities.”
When asked about the possibility of adopting out the dogs, ASPCA spokeswoman Alison Jimenez told ABC News in an email, “It’s too early to determine placement for these dogs since evaluations have yet to be conducted. Additionally, this is an ongoing investigation and the animals are considered evidence until legally turned over to the ASPCA.”
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Farida Fawzy, CNN
Aaron Smith, CNN
Bianca Britton, CNN