Volunteers caring for 407 dogs rescued from multiple suspected dogfighting operations

July 8, 2009 – United Animal Nations (UAN) today assisted in an operation to rescue hundreds of dogs from multiple organized dogfighting operations throughout the Midwest. This morning officers from multiple federal and state law enforcement agencies made arrests and seized dogs in Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Texas and Oklahoma. It is the largest simultaneous dogfighting raid and rescue in United States history.

Ten volunteers with UAN’s Emergency Animal Rescue Service (EARS) are stationed at a temporary animal shelter, where throughout the day they helped unload animals seized from dogfighting operations in Illinois and Missouri and assisted veterinarians in documenting their condition. UAN will continue to deploy EARS volunteers to the shelter for the next two weeks to provide ongoing care for 407 rescued dogs.

Distinguished by their red shirts, UAN’s EARS volunteers are specially trained to handle large dogs who have been rescued from stressful situations. UAN has sheltered and cared for animals seized in 10 criminal seizure cases in the last 12 months alone.

“Our EARS volunteers understand the importance of following protocols and properly gathering evidence in a criminal case,” said UAN Emergency Services Manager Janell Matthies. “This is an unprecedented operation and we are happy to contribute our special skills to help put an end to so many barbaric dogfighting operations.”

Investigators from the Humane Society of Missouri Animal Cruelty Task Force provided the information that led to these seizures. UAN is deploying EARS volunteers to the temporary shelter at the request of The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), which has been working with the Humane Society of Missouri, Missouri State Highway Patrol, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Office of the Inspector General, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Marshals Service and the United States Attorneyto orchestrate this operation. The ASPCA and PetSmart Charities© also assisted in various aspects of the rescue and sheltering efforts.

UAN will provide ten EARS volunteers per day to the temporary sheltering operation for the next two weeks. Each dog will be evaluated by animal behavior experts from the Humane Society of Missouri and other organizations to determine their suitability for possible placement with rescue groups or individual adopters. The Humane Society of Missouri will make recommendations about each animal to the U.S. District Court which will make the final decision for each animal.

The HSUS estimates that 40,000 people follow organized dogfighting circuits across the U.S.  while an additional 100,000 meet on neighborhood streets, alleys and hideaways.

Founded in 1987, United Animal Nations (UAN) focuses on bringing animals out of crisis and strengthening the bond between people and animals through a variety of programs, including emergency sheltering, disaster relief services, financial assistance and education. Learn more at www.uan.org.

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