10 dogs seized from suspected fighting pen in Autaugaville
AUTAUGA CO., AL (WSFA) -
Local dog fighting is back in the headlines after Autauga County Deputies seized 10 fighting dogs on Sunday, and continue to search for the suspects involved. This investigation falls on the heels of other pens discovered in Newsite and Tallapoosa County, the fourth dog fighting operation uncovered by authorities as of late.
Many are crediting this spike to an increase in awareness, due in large part to a high-stakes dog fighting bust by federal authorities in August. Prosecutors indicted 13 defendants on 30 counts, 450 plus dogs were seized along with narcotics and illegal firearms. Due to its lucrative nature, Assistant U.S. Attorney, Clark Morris, says dog fighters will stop at nothing to protect this violent sport. "It's very hard to make that kind of money in legitimate employment, betting $200 to $20,000 cash. It's hard to come by."
Morris is prosecuting the case that attracted law enforcement to this violent crime, better known as the second largest dog fighting case in the country, the result of a 2 and a half year investigation. "It is a very close knit society, they are terribly underground. They talk about this to each other, word passes about a dog fight usually by mouth."
Since August, Morris has fielded multiple calls from investigators and prosecutors looking to take similar action, despite unmatched resources and weaker criminal penalties on the local level. "They're [criminal penalties] not as high as the should be, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't be prosecuted. These people need to go to jail. They need to get a taste of the criminal justice system and hopefully bring them back to reality."
Montgomery County Animal Control Officer, Scott Hill holds anywhere between 10 to 100 fighting dogs as evidence for the courts at any given time at undisclosed shelters. A number that would likely grow with more time and manpower, "These people are dangerous, they are ruthless and they are usually armed".
Hill says if you uncover a fighting dog pen, or a pit to call 911 and leave the area immediately.