At 8-weeks-old, a puppy less than five pounds was left in the scorching sun with a chain around his neck that weighed four times what he did. The puppy has no name yet. He's called 917 and is just one of several puppies found on heavy long chains, according to the ASPCA. 917 was just one of 371 dogs rescued from a dogfighting ring last month that saw dogs seized from locations in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Texas. It was the United States' second largest dogfighting bust in history.
Usually dogfighters wait until a puppy is 6 months old before chaining them and exposing them to extreme temperatures as part of the dog's "conditioning". "What we saw on this property brought even our hardened investigators to their knees, so to speak," ASPCA CEO Matt Bershadker told CNN.
The dogs have gone to undisclosed rehabilitation centers with the ASPCA and Humane Society of the United States. They are now receiving medical treatment and behavioral assessment and training with the goal to transform the fighting dogs into family pets or rescue and rehabilitation dogs. Some of the dogs have endured years of torture and abuse and may end up in alternative placements such as a sanctuary.
"This may be the second largest dogfighting bust in U.S. history, but it's a drop in the bucket," said Bershadker. "This is going on all over the United States across socioeconomic lines, across racial lines, it is prevalent, it is pervasive, it is deep underground."