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Federal Officials Charge 9 People With Felonies In Connection With Interstate Dog Fighting

Federal Officials Charge 9 People With Felonies In Connection With Interstate Dog Fighting

Rescuers recovered sixty-six dogs from a suspected interstate dog fighting ring. The nine people accused of forcing these dogs to fight have been charged with felonies by the Feds, with each facing up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The bust is part of what’s called “Operation Grand Champion,” an anti-dog fighting campaign across multiple jurisdictions, that the Feds say is just getting started.

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The term “grand champion” refers to a dog who has won five fights  — and if we’re not sure how we feel about this operation’s name, we sure like what it’s aiming to accomplish.

Assistant Attorney General John Cruden said in a statement:

Dog fighting is truly an organized criminal activity, as well as a deplorable trade in the suffering of animals. This case marks the beginning of a coordinated effort at the Department of Justice to meet organized dog fighting head-on with a strategic, aggressive federal response.

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Criminal complaints have been filed against the defendants, six of whom live in New Jersey, the others are from Indiana, Illinois, and New Mexico. They are Anthony “Monte” Gaines, who was already in jail on unrelated charges, Justin Love, Lydell Harris, Mario Atkinson, Frank Nichols, Tiffany Burt, Dajwan Ware, Pedro Cuellar, and Robert Arellano.

These nine defendants are accused of “transporting, delivering, buying, selling, receiving and possessing pit bull-type dogs for dog fighting ventures and conspiring to commit these acts in New Jersey and elsewhere throughout the United States,” according to the Department of Justice. The charges encompass activity starting in October 2015, violated the Animal Welfare Act — a federal law that makes it a crime to transport dogs between states, for the purpose of fighting.

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Investigators found scarred dogs, and dogs stacked in crates, in addition to dog fighting equipment like treadmills, strength-building gear, and surgical implements used to treat injured dogs in lieu of veterinary care.

On surveillance recordings, Gaines bragged that his dog Bubbles was “fight crazy,” reports New Jersey On-Line.

Gaines allegedly said:

Ain’t no dog could keep up with her…she got so much offense that defense is her offense. She will swallow your dog.

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Bubbles, and the 65 other dogs rescued by federal investigators, with help from the Humane Society of the United States, are now safe at a temporary shelter in an undisclosed location.

The Humane Society has promised each will be given medical treatment and TLC. They will also evaluate the dogs for possible placement with the Dogfighting Rescue Coalition, a group of shelters and rescue groups that find homes for dogs rescued out of fighting.

HSUS’s director of animal crimes, Chris Schindler said in a statement:

These dogs are finally free from their lives inside dark crates or at the end of heavy chains. Most importantly, they will never again have to fight to the death.

Featured photo via The Humane Society of the United States.

The dogs pictured in this article are from earlier dog fighting busts, as no photos of the 66 dogs that were just rescued are yet available to media.

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