While to most animal lovers (actually, most decent human beings) the idea of raising dogs via methods of systematic torture, encouraging them to be violent and aggressive so that they can inflict harm on other dogs – all for profit – is absolutely heinous, yet dog fighting rings continue to exist. Because of the extreme levels of abuse and cruelty that is carried out against dogs in fighting rings, the practice is illegal in all 50 states. Unfortunately, as with most illicit activities, dog fighting occurs behind closed doors and sadly goes unpunished far more than it should.
But, in this particular case, justice has been served! The leader of a dog fighting ring in Alabama, Donnie Anderson, has been sentenced to eight years in prison for his participation in dog fighting. To put that in context, Michael Vick was only sentenced to two years in jail, making this particular sentence a record in the world of dog fighting charges.
Anderson was deemed the “godfather of this conspiracy,” by the judge who sentenced him and was given more jail time than the other seven individuals who were also charged for their participation. In addition to his eight year sentence, Anderson will also get three additional years of supervised release during which time his banned from owning a dog. The fights run by this sick ring were known to track between 100 – 300 participants who would place bets of around $100. It was not uncommon for a single fight to garner bets of over $100,000.
While we would be lying if we said we were not happy to see the organizer of this loathsome dog fighting ring spend the next eight years of his life in jail, the much larger victory comes in the form of the 451 dogs who were seized in the process. (The seizure of the dogs occurred August 23, 2013 – the sentencing of Anderson and the others involved was only just announced). Sadly many of the dogs had to be euthanized due to the extreme injuries they had sustained coupled with severe malnutrition – but the end of this ring means freedom for the dogs who have survived.
“These dogs had skin infections, eye infections, ear infections, parasites,” Clark Morris, lead prosecutor stated. “We had one dog that so many fleas that he couldn’t even stand up.”
This seizure represents the second largest recovery of Pit Bulls from a fighting ring. These sweet and loyal breeds are targeted by dog fighting rings because of their size and undying faithfulness to their guardians. Sadly, Anderson and his cohorts exploited and abused these dogs to an extent beyond belief, teaching them to know only pain, fear and the necessity of fighting for survival.
The Humane Society of the United States and the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, were instrumental in the rescue and rehabilitation of 367 dogs who were involved in this horrible ring. The future may be dim for Anderson and his accomplices, but it is certainly bright for these 367 dogs.
Check out their progress nearly one year later: