(WMC-TV) - Authorities busted an active dogfight in Benton County early Sunday morning leading to the rescue of 20 dogs, according to the Humane Society.
A raid involving the HSUS, the Marshall County Sheriff's Office, Benton County Sheriff's Office and Mississippi Bureau of Investigations resulted in the arrest of multiple alleged dogfighters and the seizure of almost two dozen dogs, suspected dogfighting paraphernalia and an undetermined amount of cash.
Law enforcement agents entered the property as the dogfight was in progress and came under fire by several of the more than 200 attendees. The investigation is still ongoing for numerous individuals who fled from the scene.
The raid was the outcome of a multi-agency investigation and involved tracking suspected dogfighters from around the country as they traveled to the match on a property in rural Benton County.
"We are pleased that our cooperative efforts in Mississippi resulted in the bust of a massive dogfight in progress and allowed us to rescue these dogs," said HSUS manager of animal fighting investigations Chris Schindler in a press release. "The Humane Society of the United States is proud to assist the dedicated officers in Marshall and Benton counties to crack down on a dogfighting ring that spanned the country."
The HSUS' animal fighting experts assisted law enforcement in identifying and documenting suspected dogfighting evidence and forensic crime scene evidence, as well as coordinating the dog rescue effort.
"Dogfighting is a despicable crime that will not be tolerated in Marshall County," said Marshall County Sheriff's Office major Kelly McMillen in a press release. "We are grateful for the assistance and expertise of The Humane Society of the United States and all the other departments involved to make this a successful case."
Other agencies that assisted with the investigation and raid include the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Sacramento County Sheriff's Office, Mississippi Highway Patrol and the sheriff's offices of Hardeman and Fayette counties in Tennessee.
The HSUS removed the dogs to a temporary shelter and will provide the animals with veterinary treatment, care and enrichment. At least two of the dogs were found with extensive injuries consistent with dogfighting.
It is The HSUS' policy that all dogs seized from animal fighting operations be treated as individuals. Professionals will individually evaluate all of the dogs rescued from this operation for potential placement with HSUS Dogfighting Rescue Coalition placement partners.