Indiana is home to family farms, orchards, wineries, and friendly communities. You’d never guess that an active animal fighting ring was alive and well within some of Indiana’s quaintest counties but unfortunately, that was the case until very recently.
The Indiana Gaming Commission (IGC) received a tip about a suspected fighting operation in Morgan and Owen counties. They launched an investigation and found two properties housing animals that are suspected of being abused and used in illegal fighting and gambling rings. The IGC requested support from the ASPCA in removing the animals.
All told, about 550 roosters and 10 pit bulls were rescued from the two properties. The birds had physical alterations that are consistent with cockfighting. Breeders, or “cockers” often pluck the birds’ feathers, cut off their wattle and combs above their head and below their neck (to prevent them from being easily grabbed by another bird during a fight), and hack the spurs off their feet so they can outfit them with weapons.
The pit bulls were found tied up with heavy chains with shelters that are commonly found on properties used for this purpose. Dogs raised for fighting are typically found on short chains, alone, with a barrel or crude dog house for protection from the elements. Their bodies are often altered with tails and ears being cut short to the body so that they cannot communicate cues effectively to other dogs and so that these normal body parts can’t be grabbed by their opponent.
Animal fighting is a disgusting, heinous, horrible form of abuse.
“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.”
Dogfighting is far more common than most people know. The ASPCA put out a report in 2018 that demonstrated the gap between the actual prevalence and perception of dogfighting among people. It found that most people (57%) do not believe that there is dog fighting in their communities. However, it is estimated that tens of thousands of organizers and breeders abuse hundreds of thousands of dogs across the country.
“In the past eight years, the ASPCA has assisted with approximately 200 dogfighting cases in at least 24 states and has impacted through rescue, consultations, and investigations nearly 5,000 victims of dogfighting. Last year alone, the ASPCA directly rescued more than 400 animals from dogfighting across 12 states.”
The dogs in this most recent case have been taken to shelters at undisclosed locations for medical care, evaluation, and rehabilitation. Hopefully, they can become healthy again and adopted into loving homes, but they have a very long road ahead of them before that can happen.
There have been arrests in the case and if found guilty of the felonies of conducting animal fights and possession of animals used for fights, the perpetrators will be looking at up to 2.5 years in state prison and a max fine of $10,000 for each crime, per Indiana law. They deserve that and so much more for this unspeakably cruel abuse.