An inside look at the journey of an intense air-to-air rescue to save the pitiful dogs eases the gruesome situation here

a puppy covered in mud being rescued from a dog fighting ring

In anticipation of National Dogfighting Awareness Day tomorrow, we aim to offer you an exclusive glimpse into the world of dogfighting rescue. These rescues, while often saddening, provide a fresh start for animals that have endured tremendous suffering. The ASPCA possesses extensive expertise in investigations, forensics, legal matters, medical care, behavior, and sheltering, all of which play vital roles in saving the lives of these dogs.

The Investigation

puppies being held in muddy conditions

We receive assistance requests from law enforcement, prosecutors, and animal welfare agencies nationwide for animal cruelty cases. They may contact us initially to determine if criminal intervention is necessary or later on to seek assistance with animal removal and rehoming. Sometimes, concerned citizens provide tips that our ASPCA investigators investigate, leading to potential evidence of animal cruelty. Whether we initiate a case or are approached by law enforcement, both teams collaborate closely to swiftly aid animals in need. We ensure the crime scene’s integrity, document animal conditions, and offer subject-matter expertise to help authorities gather evidence and construct a strong criminal case for successful prosecution.

Shelter Planning and Setup

Providing shelter is a crucial part of the rescue process as it offers a temporary home for rescued animals until their ownership is determined by the court. Finding a suitable location for such a shelter can be a time-consuming task that may take our staff several weeks or even months.

In addition to essential amenities such as electricity, running water, and proper ventilation, it is crucial to address practical aspects like zoning requirements, obtaining necessary permits, adhering to veterinary practice laws, and ensuring security in a temporary shelter.

a temporary shelter

After establishing a plan, the team will commence the process of preparing the facility for the dogs. This involves arranging supplies such as food, transport crates, pens, as well as gathering cleaning, medical, and behavioral supplies.

Rescue and Forensics

It is crucial to adhere to strict protocols in a rescue operation. After local authorities have obtained a legal search warrant, our teams collaborate with them at the location to assist in conducting a comprehensive inventory of the dogs present. This inventory involves meticulously documenting any scars, injuries, or indications of illness, along with assessing environmental aspects such as impoverished or unsanitary living conditions.

a puppy being treated and a scared chained dog being approached by a responder

In addition to collaborating with law enforcement, our Investigators, Forensic Sciences, and Behavior teams will conduct a thorough examination of the premises, documenting their findings through notes, photographs, videos, and a comprehensive sketch of the crime scene. Our Behavior team is dedicated to identifying signs of psychological distress in the dogs, such as compulsive behaviors or extreme fear, which may serve as evidence of harm. Simultaneously, our Forensics team meticulously records any animal-related evidence relevant to the crime, including potential paraphernalia that can assist prosecutors in future legal proceedings.

a dog chained trying to reach a responder and a collar and chain in mud

Our team of Investigators and Forensic Sciences experts are not alone in their efforts. We also have the support of our mobile Animal Crime Scene Investigation and Medical Animal Surgical Hospital (MASH) units, which are present at the scene to assist in evidence collection, forensic analysis, and veterinary triage. The MASH unit, being a specialized mobile animal hospital, enables our veterinarians to administer vital care to animals right on site. Equipped with a surgical suite, examination tables, and advanced diagnostic technology, it ensures immediate medical outcomes.

Intake and Treatment

Once it becomes feasible, we promptly transport the rescued dogs to the temporary shelter via our Animal Transport Trailers.

Upon arrival at the temporary shelter, animals receive a warm welcome from a team consisting of medical professionals, behavior experts, animal handlers, and daily caregivers. Veterinarians thoroughly examine them, providing any urgent medical care required, documenting their general state of health, and devising a comprehensive treatment plan. To gather supplementary evidence for the criminal proceedings, the behavior team performs a forensic evaluation, while simultaneously developing enrichment and socialization strategies tailored to each dog. Subsequently, the dogs are securely placed in their enclosures, allowing them to acclimate, recuperate, and prepare for further rehabilitation efforts.

Dogs being examined

Maintaining meticulous records of every animal under our care is of utmost importance. Throughout their stay with us, the dogs receive top-notch medical and behavioral attention. Additionally, we diligently document any advancements in their health and behavior, which may prove valuable in legal proceedings.

Dogs being examined

Placement and Finding Loving Homes

In the event that the ASPCA is granted ownership of the dogs by the court, our main objective is to find loving homes for as many of them as possible. Through our wide range of shelter partners and rescues, we strive to provide these dogs with their very first experience of having a home.

an adopted rescued dog with their family in the park

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