MONTGOMERY, Alabama — Investigators in the nation's second-largest dog fighting bust said defendants' stiff sentences should send a message that the cruel spectacles will not be tolerated.
Those punishments include an eight-year prison sentence to a man who organized fights where up to a $100,000 was routinely wagered on a single match. Prosecutors say that is the longest federal sentence ever handed down in a dogfighting case.
"These dogs lived in deplorable conditions that constituted extraordinary cruelty," said U.S. Attorney George L. Beck, Jr.
More than 400 dogs were seized in 2013 in raids in Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia. Many were tethered on heavy chains, scarred and emaciated.
Tim Rickey of the American Society for the Prevention of Animals said the sentences should eradicate the notion that dogfighting is not a serious crime.
Officials with animal rescue groups said about 250 dogs have been placed in homes.
"We've uncovered some of the most barbaric acts of cruelty that mankind kind can inflict on an animal, but we've also been fortunate enough to witness the remarkable ability of those same animals to recover and regain their trust in humans," said Stephanie Twining of the Humane Society of the United States.
More than 15 people were arrested during the investigation. Sentences ranged from two months to the eight years given to 50-year-old Donnie Anderson of Auburn. Prosecutors estimated that 400 to 600 dogs had been killed in the matches before the ring was shut down.
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