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HSMO's Animal Cruelty Task Force
Works with State and Federal Agencies on Largest Dog Fighting Raid and Rescue in U.S. History; Nearly 500
Pit Bulls Seized in Multi-State Operation



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Raid and Rescue Article:
"Rescued from a Heinous Blood Sport"

TIME Magazine Article:
"Abused No More"

Resuce Update: July 2009

Rescue Update: September 2009

Rescue Update: October 2009

Rescue Update: November 2009

Rescue Update: December 2009

 Donate to the Animal Cruelty Fund

July 8, 2009- In connection with what is believed to be the largest dog fighting raid in U.S. history, the Humane Society of Missouri, working in cooperation with the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Office of the Inspector General, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Marshals Service and the United States Attorney, is coordinating the rescue and sheltering of dogs associated with multiple suspected organized dog fighting operations. Early this morning, officers from multiple federal and state law enforcement agencies made arrests and seized dogs in Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Texas and Oklahoma. Investigators from the Humane Society of Missouri Animal Cruelty Task Force provided the information that led to the investigation. 

Under contract with the USDA’s Office of the Inspector General, the Humane Society of Missouri Animal Cruelty Task Force, working with partners from the ASPCA and Humane Society of the United States, is coordinating the multi-location effort to safely remove, transport and shelter the dogs. All pit bulls seized in Missouri and Illinois will be taken to a secure facility where the Humane Society of Missouri will conduct triage of each animal, document any evidence of dog fighting and oversee care for and shelter of the animals. All animals will receive a complete veterinary examination and necessary on-going veterinary care. The dogs will be cared for by the Humane Society of Missouri and its partners until final disposition by the United States District Court. 
“The Humane Society of Missouri is vehemently opposed to this heinous blood sport. The way animals used in dog fighting are abused, at the hands of people for profit, is absolutely abhorrent,” said Kathy Warnick, president of the Humane Society of Missouri. “We are grateful to the state and federal agencies for aggressively pursuing this investigation and bringing to justice those who perpetuate the systematic torture of dogs for sport and profit. Dog fighting is happening in every community in our state, right under our noses. Hopefully, public awareness and outrage will bring an end to this cruel and heinous form of animal abuse.”

The multi-location rescue and transport operation required the training and experience of professional animal handlers from the various animal welfare organizations in addition to a variety of specialized animal transport vehicles. “Dog fighting is dangerous business for dogs and for people,” says Tim Rickey, director of the Humane Society of Missouri’s Animal Cruelty Task Force. “The rescue teams in action today are comprised of seasoned animal handling experts. Together with our ASPCA and HSUS partners, our Animal Cruelty Task Force is the most experienced and best trained and equipped team in the country. We are very gratified with today’s rescue; it sends a significant message that this form of animal abuse will no longer be tolerated. We hope it leads to many other such operations to bring an end to dog fighting in the United States.” 

Today’s rescue and the resulting sheltering operation are also the largest in scope undertaken by the Humane Society of Missouri in the organization’s history. To keep the animals separate from the rest of the shelter population, the dogs are not being housed in any of the Humane Society of Missouri permanent locations but rather in an off-site temporary facility. 

While they are being cared for, each dog will be evaluated by animal behavior experts from the Humane Society of Missouri and other organizations to determine their suitability for possible placement with rescue groups or individual adopters. The Humane Society of Missouri will make recommendations about each animal to the U.S. District Court which will make the final decision for each animal.

“We are committed to giving dogs who have come from such horrible abuse the absolute best chance for a good life,” said Debbie Hill, vice president of Operations for the Humane Society of Missouri and director of the temporary shelter. “It is a tragedy that because of mistreatment by humans for financial gain and so-called sport, many dogs used in animal fighting may not ever be able to be placed in a home situation.”

 in shelter photo
UPDATE- Thursday, July 9, 2009- The Humane Society of Missouri, working with numerous federal agencies, coordinated the rescue of and is currently sheltering 378 dogs suspected of being used for illegal dog fighting.  Yesterday federal and state officers made arrests and seized dogs in five states including Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Oklahoma, and Texas. Additional arrests were made in Arkansas and Mississippi.

In all, nearly 450 animals were seized, putting an end to the abuse they suffered at the hands of people for profit.  As reported in today’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch“the gruesome scene—one of dozens that allegedly played out in recent years at hidden locations across the Midwest—was painted in a federal indictment of a multi-state dog fighting ring described as the largest in our country. “ 


in shelterUPDATE-Monday, July 13, 2009- The final count of all animals received by the Humane Society of Missouri on Wednesday, July 8 was 407 dogs.  The sheltering of rescued animals is always challenging and amazing. Although this situation is the largest of its kind, it’s no different.  While, at this point, we cannot discuss any specific animals, we can tell you they all are being expertly cared for by a truly dedicated team of employees and volunteers. Each dog has been examined by a veterinarian and has received an individual medical plan. All have been microchipped and treated for parasites. Of course, every day each dog receives nutritious food, clean water and a clean place to sleep. To help us keep the dogs happy and occupied we are asking for donations of sturdy, hard plastic or rubber toys suitable for large dogs i.e. Kongs, Nylabones, 10“-12” hard plastic or rubber balls. Toy donations can be dropped off at our Macklind Avenue Headquarters, 1201 Macklind Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63110. 

The next step for the dogs will be individual behavior evaluations conducted by an expert team led by Humane Society of Missouri pet behavior professionals. Those evaluations, along with the veterinary reports, will be given to the US District Court which will make the final determination regarding the outcome of the dogs


Thank you to the everyone who is generously dropping off supplies to
help care for the hundreds of rescued dogs in our care.

Donations Donations Dropping off blankets

How You Can Help

Donate to the Humane Society of Missouri Animal Cruelty Fund

Qualified rescue groups and shelters who are interested in providing permanent homes for the dogs should contact the Humane Society of Missouri, 314-802-5712 or pwhitcraft@hsmo.org. 

Contact your state legislator and let them know you are concerned about the issue of dog fighting in your area. Click here to find your legislator.

If you live in Missouri you can also get involved through the Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation

Thank You To

PetSmart Charities ASPCA HSUS

United Animal Nations

Special thanks to the following groups involved in our sheltering efforts:

American Humane Association
Animal Aid of Oregon
Animal Humane Society of Minnesota
ASPCA of New York
APA of Missouri
Atlanta Humane Society of Georgia
Best Friends Animal Society of Utah
Brazos Animal Shelter of Texas
Brew City Bullies of Wisconsin
Broken Hearts, Mended Souls
Cape Cod DART of Massachusetts
Denver Dumb Friends League of Colorado
Greater St. Louis Training Club of Missouri
Hawaiian Humane Society
Hello Bully from Pennsylvania
Hickey College of Missouri
Humane Society of Central Illinois
Humane Society of Greater Kansas City

Humane Society of Missouri
Humane Society of the United States

Kauai Humane Society of Hawaii
Michigan Humane Society
Mutts n Stuff (IL, MO)
Oregon Humane Society
Our Pack of California
Pit Bull Rescue Central
CA, GA, IL, MA, MD, MO, PA, VA and Canada
Pierce County Animal Rescue Team (NC, WA)
Seattle Humane Society of Washington
Sioux Empire Pit Bull Rescue of South Dakota
Spay and Neuter Kansas City of Kansas
United Animal Nations

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