More than 550 birds and 10 dogs were recovered in Indiana this week as part of an investigation into illegal animal fighting, WXIN-TV reports.
Authorities on Thursday raided properties in two counties southwest of Indianapolis after Crime Stoppers received a tip about the operation.
Police executed search warrants on the LMB Farm, where they seized upwards of 550 birds and nine pit bulls. The dogs were being weighed down with heavy chains, which is common in dog fighting practices, while roosters appeared to have been physically modified for cock fighting, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
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“We do a lot of these in a year so this is a good size operation,” said Jessica Rushan of the ASPCA. “There are a lot of animals here.”
Authorities arrested Martin Anderson, the man suspected of running the operation, and seized another pit bull at his residence.
Rob Townsend, Indiana Gaming Commission superintendent for law enforcement, said the tipster indicated to police that they would uncover roosters being prepped for fighting.
“We don’t have anything at this point that leads us to believe that there is fighting going on here,” Townsend said. “Basically we have the tip that they’re being raised for the purpose of fighting and that’s why we acted.”
The commission has received 37 tips within the last two years regarding animal fighting and gambling in Indiana, according to Townsend.
The quantity of animals seized this week was relatively average, but it is large enough that it would overwhelm local animal shelters, so that is why the ASPCA is involved during the raids.
“It’s definitely difficult conditions for the birds,” Rushan said. “We’re providing food and water. They all live outdoors, of course, so we’ll make sure they are provided with a comfortable place to sleep indoors out of the elements, but it’s definitely a muddy mess back there today and pretty wet.”
The ASPCA is using two semi-tractor trailers to transport the recovered animals to an unidentified location so they can be kept safe, screened by veterinarians and examined for evidence.
Anderson is being held in jail on one count of purchasing an animal for use in an animal fighting contest. He faces up to two-and-a-half years in prison and a $10,000 fine if convicted.
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[Feature Photo: Martin Anderson/Morgan County Jail]