MORGAN COUNTY, Ind.— Nearly 600 animals — including 10 dogs and more than 550 birds — were rescued from properties in Morgan and Owen counties that are connected to alleged animal fighters.
At the request of the Indiana Gaming Commission (IGC), the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) assisted with the removal of the animals.
The ASPCA is also assisting local authorities with evidence collection, medical assessments and veterinary forensic exams.
Search warrants were executed Thursday by the Indiana Gaming Commission, and officials discovered the animals living on two properties.
The dogs were found tied to heavy chains and housed in a manner consistent with dog fighting, while roosters were found with physical alterations commonly associated with cockfighting, according to the ASPCA.
Animal fighting paraphernalia was also discovered on the properties.
“Animal fighting is one of the most heinous forms of animal cruelty, and sadly it is far more common in the United States than many people realize. To betray animals by forcing them to fight for their lives for so-called entertainment is despicable. We’re proud to work alongside the Indiana Gaming Commission to remove these dogs and birds from pain and suffering and hold those involved responsible.”
– Jessica Rushin, senior manager of partnerships for ASPCA field investigations and response
“There’s no place in Indiana communities for animal fighting and the illegal gambling that goes with it, and we are very pleased that we were able to shut down this operation,” said Superintendent Rob Townsend of the Indiana Gaming Commission.
This investigation started with a tip from a concerned citizen to Crime Stoppers, and by raising more awareness about this type of activity we see an increase in reports from the public that better allow us to tackle animal cruelty in our communities.”
– Rob Townsend, IGC superintendent
The animals will be transported to temporary shelters at undisclosed locations, where they will be cared for by ASPCA veterinary and behavior experts until custody is determined by the court.
In Indiana, conducting an animal fight and the possession of animals for fighting are level 6 felonies, each punishable by six months in county jail to 2.5 years in state prison, and a potential maximum fine of $10,000.
The following animal welfare organizations provided ASPCA volunteers to assist with this case: Animal Care Centers of NYC; Animal Care Services – City of Indianapolis; Charleston Animal Society; Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region; Humane Society of Southwest Missouri; Oregon Humane Society; Quincy Humane Society; San Diego Humane Society.