On Sunday, a team of 11 Red Star Animal Emergency Services responders from the American Humane Association will return to a shelter near St. Louis to help care for and socialize some 500 dogs that were rescued in a July dogfighting raid, the biggest in U.S. history, which spanned Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Texas.
This news comes on the heels of guilty pleas from Robert Hackman, Teddy Kiriakidis, Ronald Creach and Michael Morgan entered Monday to conspiracy and other crimes, admitting their roles in breeding, trafficking, fighting and killing pit bulls in a lucrative dogfighting network, the Associated Press reports. A fifth co-defendant, Jack Ruppel, pled guilty Sept. 4.
During the raid, agents also seized "rape stands" used to strap female dogs into place to be bred. One hundred puppies have been born since the raids.
Breeding is crucial to the industry because fighting dogs don't live long, says Tim Rickey, director of the Humane Society of Missouri's anti-cruelty task force.
The Humane Society of Missouri staff "is outstanding," says Red Star Animal Emergency Services program manager Tracy Reis. "This temporary shelter is one of the best run that I've seen. They've been working this shelter since the beginning and are tireless in their efforts to care for these dogs. I'm proud that they've asked us to help."
New video from the Humane Society of Missouri shows dogs chained and caged with ribs showing, lips chewed and legs missing:
"To know that three-legged dogs were forced to fight for their survival is too much," said Rickey.