COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA) — More than 300 dogs were rescued over the weekend as a result of an ongoing dogfighting operation in the Midlands region of South Carolina, according to the U.S. Justice Department.
More than 60 state and federal agents arrested and charged more than 20 people for their role in what the DOJ said is believed to be the largest dogfighting operation in South Carolina history.
Officers interrupted a dogfighting match on Saturday in Richland County. The following day, law enforcement executed 23 search warrants at properties in Richland, York, Clarendon, Orangeburg, Lee and Sumter counties.
The Humane Society of the United States and Bark Nation, a non-profit group committed to saving animals’ lives and ending animal cruelty, is currently providing care to the 305 rescued dogs.
Officers also seized 30 firearms and $40,000 in cash.
“The depravity involved in carrying out a dogfighting conspiracy is unimaginable to most people, and those involved in such a crime must be rooted out and punished,” said Governor Henry McMaster, who started a dogfighting task force as Attorney General. “On behalf of all South Carolinians, I would like to thank the dedicated state and federal law enforcement officers who uncovered and disrupted this unspeakable cruelty. Our state is safer because of their hard work on this investigation.”
The federal Animal Welfare Act, which was signed into law in 1966, makes it a felony to participate in dogfighting in any way and carries with it a penalty of up to five years in prison.
The case remains under investigation by several state and federal agencies.
Anyone with information on dogfighting in South Carolina is asked to call 800-424-9121.