MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The officials who busted a dog fighting ring that stretched across four states were honored Tuesday by the Human Society of the United States.
The organization presented its 2014 Humane Law Enforcement Awards to U.S. Attorney George Beck of Montgomery, Assistant U.S. Attorney Clark Morris, former FBI agent Keith Baker, two current FBI agents and an Auburn police officer for their work. The Auburn officer, who worked undercover, and the two FBI agents did not attend the ceremony in Montgomery and their names were not made public for security reasons, federal officials said.
The investigation began in 2010 and culminated in August 2013, with investigators serving search warrants at 11 locations in Alabama and two in Georgia. They seized more than 360 pit bulls, more than $500,000 and illegal drugs. They also arrested 14 people from Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Texas.
"It has impacted dog fighting on a national level," said Mindy Gilbert, state director for the Humane Society of the United States.
The defendants have pleaded not guilty and are scheduled for trial May 8 either in Montgomery or Opelika.
Since the raids, the number of dogs has grown to 458 due to several being pregnant and having puppies. Most of the dogs are being kept at secure locations overseen by animal protection organizations. Chris Schindler, the Humane Society's manager of animal fighting investigations, said more than 40 have been placed with agencies for eventual placement into new homes. He said a small number of the pit bulls had to be euthanized because of their injuries and health problems, but he did not have an exact figure.