Two Michiana women helped save hundreds of dogs during the nation’s second-largest dog fighting raid over the weekend.
Linda Candler and Kelly Adelsperger are both volunteers on the Humane Society’s disaster team.
“I’ve done puppy mill rescues, I’ve done a small dog fighting rescue, but 367 dogs, that’s a lot,” Candler said.
After a three-year investigation, the FBI, Humane Society, ASPCA and U.S. Attorney’s office converged on several locations that spanned across Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Texas.
They found hundreds of dogs living in horrible conditions. Some were only several days old.
The dogs were chained to filthy, makeshift shelters that provided little relief from the heat.
“We were in the South and it was hot,” said Adelsperger. “There were no signs of water bowls, no signs of food bowls.”
In video and pictures of the rescue, it appears many of the dogs are emaciated.
They also have several scars and wounds – evidence of the terror they’d endured.
“Quite frankly, it sickens me to see what those people do to those dogs,” Candler said. “Those dogs are wonderful dogs.”
Despite all they’d been through, the volunteers say most of the dogs weren’t aggressive. They say some appeared scared, but many happily greeted rescue crews.
“Their tails were just wiggling and they were just so happy to see us, so happy to just have love” Adelsperger said. “And that makes everything we do worthwhile.”
Ten suspects were arrested during the raid and now face felony dog fighting charges. Police also found firearms, drugs and more than $500,000 in cash during the raid.
The Humane Society will evaluate all of the dogs that were rescued to determine if they’re adoptable or not. If so, they’ll need rescue groups to step up and help find homes for the animals.
Adelsperger and Candler say their experiences with rescues have opened their eyes about the pitbull breed. They say many pitbulls make great family pets, as long as the owners give them the love they need.
They say the gentle nature of the dogs rescued this weekend shows animals shouldn’t be discriminated against just because of their breeds. Both women say cities in Michiana should eliminate breed-specific ordinances that place restrictions upon owners. South Bend is currently looking into the issue.