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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET

Crime

Mike Levine

Washington, DC

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About 200 Dogs Rescued in Major Raid

July 8, 2009 - 1:43 PM | by: Mike Levine

Federal authorities – with help from local animal welfare groups – have launched a nation-wide crackdown on dog-fighting rings. About 30 people were arrested and 200 dogs were rescued in Missouri, Illinois and Texas, according to the Justice Department. As many as 300 dogs could end up being rescued, one FBI source said.

 

In Missouri, five men and more than 150 Pit Bull Terriers were taken into custody after early-morning raids. The U.S. Attorney there also filed motions seeking to take legal ownership of the dogs and place the animals in the care and custody of the Humane Society of Missouri, a Justice Department press release said.

 

 

The Humane Society of Missouri called it “the largest dog fighting raid in U.S. history.” They were the ones who first alerted the FBI to the dog-fighting rings, one source said.

 

According to an indictment, the five Missouri men — Michael Morgan, Robert Hackman, Teddy Kiriakidis, Ronald Creach and Jack Ruppel –- ran various kennel operations to purchase, breed, train, condition, and develop Pit Bull Terriers for dog-fighting competitions. Among the kennels’ names: “Shake Rattle and Roll Kennel,” “Ozark Hillbillys Kennel,” and “Hard Goodbye Kennel.”

 

The indictment also alleges that the men “routinely inhumanely abandoned, destroyed, and otherwise disposed of Pit Bull Terriers that lost fighting competitions,” the press release said.

 

“Forcing a dog to fight to its death is not a sport,” said John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge of the St. Louis office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. “There is nothing respectable about encouraging two animals to torture and dismember each other. Individuals who participate in dog fighting claim to care for the animals, but they don’t hesitate to electrocute their helpless dog once it loses a fight and can no longer provide any financial benefit.”

 

The specific charges against the Missouri men, according to the press release:

 

- Michael Morgan, a/k/a Missouri Mike, 38, Hannibal, MO, on two felony counts of conspiracy to commit federal offenses and one felony count of prohibitions against animal fighting ventures;

- Robert Hackman, 55, Foley, MO, two felony counts of conspiracy to commit federal offenses and two felony counts of prohibitions against animal fighting ventures;

- Teddy Kiriakidis, a/k/a Teddy Bogart, 50, Leasburg, MO, one felony count of conspiracy to commit federal offenses;

- Ronald Creach, 34, Leslie, MO, one felony count of conspiracy to commit federal offenses; and

- Jack Ruppel, 35 Eldon, MO, town, two felony counts of conspiracy to commit federal offenses and two felony counts of prohibitions against animal fighting ventures.

 

If convicted, each count of the indictment carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and/or fines up to $250,000.

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