Nearly 600 pit bulls and roosters rescued in animal-fighting probe in Indiana

Members of the ASPCA rescue a dog from a property in Owen County, Indiana, connected to alleged animal fighters.
Members of the ASPCA rescue a dog from a property in Owen County, Indiana, connected to alleged animal fighters.ASPCA

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By Minyvonne Burke

Nearly 600 pit bulls and roosters were removed from two properties in Indiana after authorities received a tip that the animals were allegedly being trained for fighting.

Investigators seized one pit bull Thursday morning at the Morgan County home of Martin Anderson, the Indianapolis Star reports. More than 550 roosters and nine pit bulls were found at a farm in Owen County, reportedly owned by Anderson.

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), which assisted in recovering the animals, the dogs were found tied to heavy chains and "housed in a manner consistent with dogfighting," the agency said in a press release.

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The roosters had "physical alterations commonly associated with cockfighting," the ASPCA said. The agency said it was not able to provide details on the alterations because this is an ongoing investigation.

Animal-fighting paraphernalia was also found at both properties, according to the ASPCA.

Anderson is being held in the Morgan County Jail on one count of purchasing an animal to be used in an animal fighting contest, according to the Indianapolis Star. He faces up to two-and-a-half years in prison if convicted.

A rooster believed to be held for cockfighting on a property in Owen County, Indiana.ASPCA

The Indiana Gaming Commission executed search warrants on the properties after Crime Stoppers received a tip that the dogs and birds were allegedly being trained for animal fighting.

"There’s no place in Indiana communities for animal fighting and the illegal gambling that goes with it, and we are very pleased that we were able to shut down this operation," said IGC Superintendent Rob Townsend in the ASPCA release.

Jessica Rushin, senior manager of Partnerships for ASPCA Field Investigations and Response, told NBC News on Friday that the rescued animals were taken to temporary shelters in undisclosed locations for evaluations and to receive medical and behavioral care until a court decides on where to place them. In the past, rescued dogs were placed in homes, Rushin said.

Animal fighting has become a growing concern in the United States. Last year, the ASPCA assisted in rescuing more than 4,500 animals from dogfighting and cockfighting cases, Rushin told NBC.

“Animal fighting is one of the most heinous forms of animal cruelty, and sadly it is far more common in the United States than many people realize,” she said in a statement. “To betray animals by forcing them to fight for their lives for so-called entertainment is despicable."