On June 1, 2009, two dog fighting operations in Randolph County, Alabama, were raided by the state's Fifth Judicial Circuit Drug Task Force, the ASPCA and the Humane Society of the United States. The ASPCA dispatched forensic veterinarian Dr. Melinda Merck and our Mobile Animal Crime Scene Investigation Unit to collect evidence in the investigation and aid in the prosecution of the case.
Dr. Merck examined 45 dogs found living in deplorable conditions on properties in Roanoke and Newell, Alabama. The canine victims were tied to heavy chains and bore scars, untreated injuries and wound patterns indicative of fighting. Authorities discovered partially buried skeletal remains on the Roanoke property. Controlled substances, illicit drugs and other paraphernalia related to dog fighting were also collected into evidence.
Dr. Merck thoroughly examined the evidence seized at the scene—including traces of blood and fluid—to demonstrate that the crime of dog fighting had occurred. She then worked with several forensic specialists to analyze and prepare the evidence for court.
"These dogs definitely suffered abuse and inhumane treatment at the hands of dog fighters," says Dr. Merck. "One was unable to walk, another was limping, and many were injured, some severely."
Two suspects were eventually charged. William Alsabrook of Newell was charged with two counts of possession of dogs for fighting. Authorities seized 25 dogs from his property and other paraphernalia consistent with dog fighting. Artis Kyle of Roanoke was charged with one count of possession of dogs for fighting, two counts of possession of a controlled substance, one count of possession of drug paraphernalia and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm.
On June 23, 2009, William Alsabrook pleaded guilty to five counts of cruelty to animals and one count of resisting arrest. A Fifth Judicial Circuit judge sentenced Alsabrook to 12 months on each count, to be served consecutively, but suspended the sentence. Instead, as the result of a plea deal, he was ordered to serve 30 days of community service and pay a $400 fine and court costs on each count.
Alsabrook, who according to a preliminary court hearing had been breeding and selling dogs since the 1970s, agreed to surrender the 25 dogs who were seized on his property. He surrendered all materials seized in the raid except for the confiscated firearms, which were returned to him. He faces charges for possessing dogs for fighting as well as possession of steroids, crack cocaine and felony possession of a firearm.
Courtesy of Randolph Leader/Matt Shelley
To learn more about dog fighting, please visit our section on Blood Sports.