On Sunday, Sept. 20, 11 responders with the American Humane Association’s highly trained Red Star Animal Emergency Services™ team will return to a temporary shelter near St. Louis to continue to care for and socialize more than 500 fighting dogs that were rescued in July.
American Humane will return to the shelter at the request of the Humane Society of Missouri (HSMO) and assist that organization’s efforts to provide expert daily care to the dogs. Earlier this month, at the request of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), American Humane sent its first round of animal emergency responders to assist with the care of animals.
The dogs were part of the nation’s largest dogfighting case and are connected to the July 8, 2009, multistate federal dogfighting raid that resulted in the rescue of more than 500 fighting dogs. Federal agents made 26 arrests and dogs were rescued in eight states. Under contract with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of the Inspector General, the HSMO is managing the sheltering, veterinary care, behavioral evaluation and eventual placement of the 407 dogs rescued in Missouri and Illinois and the additional 100 puppies born since the rescue.
A typical day for responders, like Tracy Reis, program manager for American Humane’s Red Star Animal Emergency Services, begins at 8 a.m., when feeding and watering are the priority. Cages are cleaned, the dogs are walked and socialized, and by the afternoon they take their first break for lunch. Each dog’s behavior is monitored and recorded. The highlight of each dog’s day is when peanut butter-filled toys are given to them before dinner. After 5:30 p.m., once all of the dogs are comfortable, Reis and others working to care for the dogs go back home or to hotels to sleep before beginning again the next day.
“This temporary shelter is one of the best run that I’ve seen. The area is organized, secure and very clean,” Reis said. “The HSMO staff is outstanding. They’ve been working this shelter since the beginning and are tireless in their efforts to care for these dogs. I’m proud that they’ve asked us to help.”
The seized dogs were found with numerous scars, suggesting they were used for fighting or as bait for fighting dogs. Some dogs were malnourished and others have missing limbs. Many are dog-aggressive but are friendly with people.
The HSMO reported that four eastern Missouri men, Robert Hackman of Foley, Teddy Kiriakidis of Leasburg, Ronald Creach of Leslie and Michael Morgan of Hannibal, pled guilty Monday in U.S. District Court in St. Louis to charges connected to the dogfighting raid. Another man arrested in connection with the dog fighting raid, Jack Ruppel of Eldon, pled guilty to charges on Sept. 4 in federal court in Jefferson City.
For more information on American Humane’s Red Star Animal Emergency Services team go to www.americanhumane.org/redstar.