Hundreds of dogs were rescued and more than 20 people were arrested as part of what authorities called the largest takedown of a dogfighting operation in the state of South Carolina.
The raid began on Saturday, when federal agents interrupted a scheduled dogfighting match in Richland County. The next morning a team of 60 officers descended on the Midlands, executing 23 search warrants at several homes and businesses “that were known dogfighting kennels or associated with dogfighting,” U.S. Attorney Adair Boroughs said in a statement on Monday.
While their exact locations were not clear, authorities said the operation spanned several counties, including Richland, York, Orangeburg, Clarendon, Lee and Sumter.
In total, 305 dogs were rescued, with 275 believed to be associated with dogfighting, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. They are currently being cared for by the Humane Society of the United States and Bark Nation.
Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, lamented the fact that dogfights continue to be prevalent while praising the pups’ strength.
“Even after the many years we have worked to protect dogs from the calculated brutality that dogfighting perpetuates, our responders are still struck by the resilience of these dogs who have suffered unthinkable cruelty,” she said in a statement.
Officers also seized approximately 30 firearms, $40,000 in cash, and various evidence related to dogfighting during the operation.
“To force dogs to fight, often to the death, for the enjoyment of others is not only a federal crime, it is also cruel, sadistic, and can create a haven for other illicit activities involving drugs and firearms,” said Boroughs.
“This joint operation, which has been months in the making, makes clear that dogfighting operations will find no refuge here in South Carolina.”