A multi-agency taskforce in west Georgia arrested 34 people and seized 27 vehicles, several guns and over $28,000 in cash in a Saturday- night raid on an alleged dog-fighting operation in Meriwether County reported Sheriff Chuck Smith.
Numerous officers converged at a location on Callaway Rd., off Happy Hollow Drive, at approximately 10:30 p.m., reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
An "emaciated, bleeding, crippled female pit bull terrier" was found inside a large fighting pit. Both she and another dog were rescued, the sheriff said.
"Animal Control Officer Beth Miller advised that she was hopeful that the dog found in this pit could be saved. I'm appreciative to her for assisting us," Sheriff Smith stated in a press release.
“Our narcotics unit has worked on gathering intelligence on the event and at a moment’s notice they rallied up and met at the training center where a briefing was conducted,” Smith wrote in an e-mail to the AJC.
Meriwether Sheriff Chuck Smith said that officers from local agencies, bolstered by helicopters from the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office and the state Department of Natural Resources, took part in the raid.
“When the helicopter pilots hit their target with spotlights, participants and spectators ran into the arms of waiting officers holding a perimeter around the event,” Sheriff Smith said.
In addition to the cash and vehicles, authorities confiscated , five guns, two generators, lighting equipment and scales used to weigh dogs before fighting.
Some of the individuals are local. Several others are from the states of Alabama, Arkansas, and Michigan, Sheriff Smith said. One of the offenders is wanted by the U.S. Marshals for a federal indictment related to dog fighting.
"I am saddened by what I saw at this crime scene; however, I am very proud of all these law enforcement officers that were involved. We know in the dog fighting world, these events carry the highest potential of being extremely dangerous.
All officers displayed the highest level of professionalism while showing 'armed' force to minimize the risk of getting hurt or hurting others," said Sheriff Smith.
Agencies involved in the raid include: Meriwether County Deputies & Investigators, the Meriwether Narcotics unit, Woodbury Police, Greenville Police, DNR Rangers with the Department of Natural Resources, Spalding County Sheriff's Deputies, Coweta County Sheriff's Crime Suppression Unit, the Coweta County Sheriffs and Department of Natural Resources Aviation Units.
Those arrested face various charges, including gambling, cruelty to animals, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, theft-by-receiving stolen property and conspiracy to commit or promote dog fighting, the AJC reports.
A large “Express Wings” catering truck was set up to serve fried chicken and fish to spectators, instead it was seized as evidence.
Up to a $5,000 reward is offered by The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) for information leading to the arrest and conviction of any person involved in illegal animal fighting. Call 877-TIP-HSUS (877-847-4787). Callers’ identities are protected.