By Eloise Hands
Last Updated August 12, 2021

The recent raiding of nine residences across Suffolk County, Nassau County, Connecticut, and Brooklyn has resulted in the rescue and almost 100 fighting dogs. Furthermore, ten men were also arrested, believe to be connected to the fighting ring in question. Making this among the largest takedowns of a dogfighting ring in New Your State history.

Dogfighting, which has been totally outlawed in the States since 1979, includes training, forced breeding, and illegal fighting of Pitbull dogs. The purpose of which is to make money from betting and entrance fees. It is a severe breach of animal cruelty laws and feeds on the inhumane treatment of otherwise gentle animals.

This particular investigation was started in early 2021. Carried out by local, country, and state law enforcement spanning Long Island, New York City, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. During the investigation, it was revealed that in order to “prepare” the dogs for future fights, puppies as young as 6-months-old were put into practice fights, otherwise known as “rolls” in order to determine their capabilities and fighting potential. Once it has been decided that a dog can be used in the fighting pits, they will be kept in barbaric living conditions and forced into hardcore training routines in preparation for each fight.

Investigators were also able to uncover how the fighting ring operated once the puppies had been selected, or “prepared” for future fights. A “broker” would then measure a dog’s weight and height in order to organize the fighting schedule and take payments. Opponents wanting to enter their dog into the fight would pay a buy-in fee in order to do so, this was otherwise known as a “forfeit”. Once the fight has taken place, the owners of the victorious dog would then collect any winnings gathered.

Before the fight begins, spectators would be allowed to look over the dogs and then bet on the potential outcome of the violence, during which dogs can be maimed or even killed. The investigation uncovered that any dog seriously injured during the fight, or dogs that “underperformed” would be killed by the organizers of the brutal fight.

The defendants, arrested in connection to the fighting ring, would not only make money from pitting these poor dogs against one another and collecting bets, but also by forcing the dogs to breed and selling the puppies to dogfighting enthusiasts as dogs with good “fighting genes”.

The searches took place on July 31st and August 1st, 2021. Three residences were searches in Nassau County, nine in Suffolk County, and one in Brooklyn. Between the first thirteen residences, 81 dogs were found and rescued. The remaining eight dogs were rescued from a residence in Connecticut.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals had worked alongside law enforcement to help recover the dogs. All of whom had been found living in extremely cruel conditions – locked in cages or chained up in garages, basements, and sheds. Many of the dogs found had been left without any food or water.

According to the DA’s office when speaking with New York Post many of the dogs they have rescued had clear evidence of medical conditions bought on by fighting. Such as broken teeth, and scarring in multiple places. Furthermore, almost every dog exhibited fearful behavior towards the rescue team members.

A multitude of disturbing paraphernalia had also been uncovered during the raids. Officials have listed the range of tools to include skin staplers to quickly patch up severe injuries, supplements and steroids meant to bulk up and strengthen the dogs used, electrocution devices, “rape stands” which were used to immobilize unwilling female dogs so as to force mating and breeding, “break sticks” used to break up fights when deemed necessary, and various other training equipment such as treadmills.

The ten defendants arrested during the raids, who range from 32-80 years of age, face the possibility of up to 4 years of incarceration or a potential fine of up to $25,000. According to officials, there is the possibility they could be hit with both depending on the severity of their crimes and involvement. One of the defendants is facing up to 20 years imprisonment due to auditions charges for drug possession.

Suffolk County District Attorney, Timothy D. Sini has spoken about the matter in an open statement put forward by SCDA. In response to this discovery, the case will be reviewed by the Special Grand Jury, as well as taking recommendations put forward by the SCDA in regards to the strengthening of animal cruelty laws, in the hopes of better protecting other animals from this type of “senseless abuse”. Speaking out against this level of animal cruelty Sini has said, “we need to hold these bad actors accountable for their violent actions and these crimes need to be treated seriously under our law.”

With animal cruelty laws changing all over the world, and punishments becoming more and more severe, the hope is that stricter laws and punishments will deter anyone thinking of eliciting any activities that may result in cruelty towards animals of all kinds.

Dogs in CageFurthermore, Sini has also said that these types of crimes will not be tolerated. Speaking in particular about the crimes that result in the injuring and potential killing of vulnerable animals. The statement reads, “Many of us have dogs as pets in our homes and we love them as another family member. This case is about how a criminal network bred dogs, tortured them, and put them in serious harm’s way just to make a buck.”

Sini has pointed out that the arrests and rescues that have taken palace as a result of this investigation represent a serious blow to the underground world of dogfighting. Especially in Long Island, which the SCDA believes will work to impact dogfighting rings throughout the Northeast.

Dermot Shea, NYPD Commissioner has also spoken up to make it known that the NYPD will be continuing to enforce animal protection laws. Further ensuring that anybody found to have been inflicting any level of cruelty on animals will be bought to justice, as is expected.

Elizabeth Brandler, the Senior Counsel for ASPCA’s Legal Advocacy & Investigations has stressed that the discovery of this extensive dogfighting ring spanning multiple cities is a clear indicator that dogfighting continues to persist throughout America, despite the criminalization of the activity. After the discovery of dozens of brutally treated victimized dogs, this only serves as a reminder to remain diligent in the constant fight to eradicate animal fighting across the entire country.

Brandler has also expressed her gratitude to the SCDA stating ““We are grateful that the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office and Suffolk County Police Department chose to work with us on this complex case and for their commitment to stopping these despicable crimes, rescuing the animals involved, and bringing the perpetrators to justice.”

Eloise is the owner of a Malamute/Akita cross, a first-time mum, and an animal enthusiast from England. She comes from a family which has never gone a day without a pet (or 3!), and over the years has learned all the best tips and tricks to raising a difficult pet. A knowledge that she has put to good use, to help others navigate the limitless world of pet care.

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