COLUMBIA, S.C. — A team of more than 60 federal, and state law enforcement officers, as well as rescue agencies assisted in what is believed to be the biggest takedown of a dogfighting operation in South Carolina history.
5 out of the 6 counties involved in the bust were in the Midlands. (Richland, Clarendon, Lee, Sumter, and Orangeburg) Of the 305 dogs seized, 275 were used for fighting and many were found chained to trees in the woods.
Janette Reever, a dogfighting expert for the Humane Society of The United States says although scenes like this are always upsetting to see, they are not uncommon.
"Dog fighting isn't something that just happens here, it's something that occurs across the United States and is sadly happening all the time," Reever explained.
Reever says it was pleasing to be a part of such a large rescue that has helped save so many dogs.
"The dogs are now outside of South Carolina. We have them at a temporary shelter so they are receiving medical treatment, vet care, and pain management antibiotics," she explained.
Reever said that 80% of the dogs used in fights are typically able to be rehabilitated and adopted.
However, humane society director Janell Gregory says none of this would have been possible if federal agencies hadn't stepped in.
"Under our current Cost of Care Law, animals that are seized by law enforcement are held in our local shelters throughout the prosecution process which could extend multiple years," Gregory explained. "It's very difficult for law enforcement in our state to police dog fighting and other animal abuse."
The Humane Society of South Carolina is asking the state to amend its current Cost of Care Law to include language that would require the animal's owner to pay for the 'cost of care' every 30 days leading up to a trial. Failure to pay would result in the forfeiture of the animals.
The Humane Society says they are working with lawmakers and lawyers to try to get this law changed as soon as possible.