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The Ruff Report: Dogs and Rescue

26 dogs rescued from fighting ring; 27 bodies found

Twenty-six dogs - most on the verge of starvation and with "battle scars" from years of vicious fighting - have been rescued from a property in Georgia and the decomposed bodies of 27 others who died from fighting or hunger were found.

The dogs - Pit Bull Terriers and Bull Terrier-mixes - were found chained to tire axles and rods in the woods and have bite wounds, injuries and scars that indicate the fighting operation was going on for years, according to animal welfare officials.

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"They bear the battle scars consistent with those of fighting dogs," Tim Rickey, the ASPCA's Senior Director of Field Investigations and Response, states in a media release.

The conditions endured by the dogs - emaciated and chained as seen in photos at left and below from the ASPCA - were horrific, Mr. Rickey said. "Being on log chains 24/7 is no way to live. These dogs have lived a miserable life. ... It's bad enough that these dogs were treated cruelly and raised in horrible conditions. But to leave them like this to starve is incomprehensible and speaks exactly to the kinds of heinous crimes the ASPCA fights day in and day out."

The dogs were rescued from a 25-acre property near Sandersville, Ga. The Washington County Sheriff's Office called in the ASPCA, United Animal Nations and Sumter Disaster Animal Response Team for assistance with the rescue.

"This has been going on for much too long," Washington County Sheriff Thomas Smith states in a media release. "We are committed to fighting animal cruelty in all its forms."

Anita Kelso Edson, an official with the American Society for Cruelty to Animals, says the fighting operation was likely to have been going on for about three years. "All of the dogs are emaciated and undernourished," she told My Setter Sam. "Some are suffering from untreated injures, respiratory problems and open wounds."

An emergency shelter has been set up to care for the dogs, Ms. Edson said. "For now, they are in a warm, safe and comfortable environment, with regular access to food, and water, shelter and bedding."

Behavioral experts will evaluate the dogs after their medical conditions - many are suffering from skin and eye infections as well as bruises like these in photos at left and below from the ASPCA - are treated to determine which dogs are adoptable and which may need further rehabilitation, Ms. Edson said. "As for their emotional well-being, this will unfold in the coming days and weeks, but many appear friendly despite having lived in horrific circumstances."

The care and rehabilitation of the dogs will be expensive because of the circumstance surrounding their living conditions, Ms. Edson said.

"We had to set up and emergency shelter constructed of heavy duty wire pens to prevent animals from escaping and fighting with each other," she explained. "The next step will be the ongoing medical treatment and transportation of animals to our partner agencies."

Those interested adopting the dogs or making donations for their care and rehabilitation should visit the ASPCA.

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People should also consider making donations to their local animal shelters and humane societies, Ms. Edson says. "Operations such as these are expensive, and could not take place without the support of the caring public. As always, the ASPCA also encourages people to donate to their local shelters who often have investigators who fight cruelty and need resources."

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