GEORGIA (WRBL) – In a multi-agency, multi-county operation, 156 dogs were rescued after search warrants were served in seven Georgia counties.
As part of a joint operation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office led an investigation that resulted in the rescue of more than 100 canines.
Agencies that participated in the operation included:
- The U.S. Marshals Service
- The Department of Justice, Environment and Natural Resources Division
- The Georgia Bureau of Investigation
- The Bibb County Sheriff’s Office
- The Crawford County Sheriff’s Office
- The Houston County Sheriff’s Office
- Meriwether County Sheriff’s Office
- Peach County Sheriff’s Office
- Taylor County Sheriff’s Office
- Webster County Sheriff’s Office
- Byron Police Department
- Fort Valley Police Department
According to the DOJ, 11 federal search warrants were executed across the state of Georgia on Feb. 26.
“These search warrants are part of a multi-month, multi-agency investigation into allegations of illegal dogfighting and drug trafficking,” said Robert J. Murphy, the special agent in charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division. “Because of the dedication between all law enforcement agencies involved, the citizens of Middle Georgia are safer and innocent animals have been rescued.”
All 156 dogs rescued during the operation are now in the care of the U.S. Marshals Service. Officials say that many of the animals are malnourished with scarring. Others are severely injured and may need surgery or other medical treatment to recover.
An emergency veterinarian was present during the operation and cared for a female pit bull that was found chained up with broken legs, malnourished, and overbred, according to law enforcement.
At least two dogs needed emergency surgery, according to officials. The animals’ locations will not be made public to ensure their safety.
“I am incredibly grateful to the law enforcement teams who came together from all over the region to rescue these abused animals as we continue to investigate this alleged dogfighting ring,” said U.S. Attorney Charlie Peeler. “Illegal dogfighting is a barbaric activity. Those who choose to violate the Animal Welfare Act face serious consequences, including federal prison time, where there is no parole.”
Officials say the investigation is ongoing.