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225 dogs seized as authorities break up multistate dog-fighting ring

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Twenty-two people were indicted and more than a dozen homes and other locations raided after investigators targeted a dog-fighting ring on the East Coast, officials announced this week.

During the operation, police seized weapons, steroids, weighted collars and chains in Maryland and West Virginia, according to reports. They picked up 225 dogs, the Associated Press reported. Fifty of those dogs were puppies.

“It’s a cruel world,” Baltimore police Lt. Col. Sean Miller said, according to the Baltimore Sun. “The connectivity to violent crime and violence is apparent.”

What’s unclear now, however, is the fate of some of those recovered animals. The Sun reports that 85 have been taken to shelters, where authorities must now figure out how many should be put down, and how many can be adopted.

“Each and every dog is assessed individually by a professional,” Baltimore police spokesman Lt. Eric Kowalczyk told the Sun. “Every effort is made to rehabilitate and place them for adoption. As a general rule, many dogs including all puppies and young dogs do end up in loving families as a result of their effort.”

According to the Sun:

Many of the dogs listed in the 15-page indictment were named Jax, Tara, Chibs, Opie, Gemma and Lyla — names of characters from the television show “Sons of Anarchy,” a series about an outlaw motorcycle gang.

Kowalczyk told AP that the department is “focusing on the fact that a lot of the dogs we were able to rescue are able to be rehabilitated.”

For more on what the animals, officials and caregivers experience after a dog-fighting raid, check out this Sports Illustrated piece on the pits bulls that were saved from quarterback Michael Vick’s operation, including one named Sweet Jasmine. (You could also read Jim Gorant’s book, if you’d like a deeper look.)

SI reported:

The dog approaches the outstretched hand. Her name is Sweet Jasmine, and she is 35 pounds of twitchy curiosity with a coat the color of fried chicken, a pink nose and brown eyes. She had spent a full 20 seconds studying this five-fingered offering before advancing. Now, as she moves forward, her tail points straight down, her butt is hunched toward the ground, her head is bowed, her ears pinned back. She stands at maybe three quarters of her height.
She gets within a foot of the hand and stops. She licks her snout, a sign of nervousness, and looks up at the stranger, seeking assurance. She looks back to the hand, licks her snout again and begins to extend her neck. Her nose is six inches away from the hand, one inch, half an inch. She sniffs once. She sniffs again. At this point almost any other dog in the world would offer up a gentle lick, a sweet hello, an invitation to be scratched or petted. She’s come so far. She’s so close.
But Jasmine pulls away.

It is worth noting that the Humane Society has changed its policy since that story was published. For a more updated perspective, here’s a Huffington Post piece from earlier this year, which follows up on a 2013 bust that involved more than dogs.

This story has been updated.