Authorities just across the Minnesota border in Wisconsin busted a dog and cockfighting ring that involved more than 1,300 animals.
According to a joint press release from the Pierce County Sheriff's Office and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the bust was made during the execution of a search warrant at a property in Gilman Township, Wisconsin.
The conditions the 1,300-plus animals were living in were described as "deplorable," with some dogs tied to heavy chains and clearly scarred and injured from likely dogfighting.
It's believed that at least a dozen dogs were specifically bred for dogfighting.
Roosters on the property were found with physical alterations, which the release says is commonly associated with cockfighting.
Equipment typically used in dogfighting and cockfighting was recovered at the scene and is being examined by subject matter experts.
All animals are being taken by ASPCA to emergency shelters for treatment. The courts will eventually determine custody of the animals.
"This is the second large-scale animal cruelty case we have encountered in the past two years,” said Pierce County Sheriff Nancy Hove. “When we are made aware of any animal cruelty issues, we do the best we can to investigate and hold those responsible accountable for the suffering they’ve caused these animals."
Animal fighting is considered a felony in Wisconsin. First time offenders can face up to 3-and-a-half years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine.
“Animal fighting is an inhumane practice that is unfortunately common throughout the country,” said Tim Rickey, Vice President of ASPCA Field Investigations and Response. “The ASPCA is pleased to be in a position where we can provide resources and expertise to assist local authorities with their investigation.”
The identity of the person or persons accused organizing the animal fights has not been released.