Press Release

Massive Raid on Dogfighting Syndicate Celebrated by Animal Welfare Groups, Shows More Work to Be Done

Animal Wellness Action says latest raid in New Jersey demonstrates underscores value for passage of new, sweeping federal FIGHT ACT led by New Jersey’s Cory Booker.

New York — Animal Wellness Action and the Center for a Humane Economy applauded state and federal authorities for their collaborative work on the latest crackdown in New Jersey of illegal dogfighting — a major ring centered in Cumberland County. The series of recent busts in the state reveal a widespread problem of animal fighting that warrants action by the Congress on Senator Cory Booker’s FIGHT Act. Reps. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J.-5; Tom Kean, R-N.J.-7; Bill Pascrell, D-N.J.-9; Chris Smith, R-N.J.-4; and Jeff Van Drew, R-N.J.-2, are cosponsors of the companion measure in the U.S. House.

Earlier this week, law enforcement conducted a search at a Cumberland County compound after a thorough investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice, the New Jersey State Police, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Officials had determined the locus was the site of a massive dogfighting operation and discovered two additional locations were involved.

More than 100 dogs were rescued from the premises, where it is believed they had been bred and trained for fighting. Two dogs were found dead in one of the secondary locations, a pit in rural Maurice River Township.

Police arrested Bruce “Hollywood” Low Jr., a known dogfighting breeder and ex-convict, in connection with the operation.

Low previously served nearly 12 years in federal prison following a 2006 raid in which authorities discovered not only evidence of dogfighting but also a significant drug operation involving cocaine and crack manufacturing. 

The recent arrests and rescues were the culmination of a two-and-a-half-year investigation by multiple agencies. They determined that Low organized 61 dogfights in that time frame, laundering money through a legitimate construction company on the same property. Eight other individuals were arrested and charged, including members of Low’s family (including his mother) and alleged co-conspirators.

Among the charges are racketeering, conspiracy, money laundering, promoting organized street crime, and multiple dogfighting-related offenses, including leading a dogfighting network, keeping and/or training a dog for a fight, possession of related paraphernalia, and cruelty to animals.

“Animal fighting is cruelty to animals that is tied up with many other crimes that are dangerous and deadly to humans,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action and the Center for a Humane Economy. “That anyone would treat animals in such a remorseless manner and subject them to deathmatches for the amusement of the handlers and spectators shocks the conscience.”

“Profiting from dogfighting is callous, brutal, and cruel,” said state Attorney General Matthew Platkin at an April 4 press conference. “These animals are born into lives of abuse, suffering, and violence, culminating with hours-long fights, and frequently these dogs’ slow and painful deaths. The alleged illegal activities that were uncovered by this investigation will not go unpunished.”

“The barbaric practice of pitting animals against each other in a fight to the death has no place in this country,” said Acting Special Agent-in-Charge Christopher Robinson of the Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General (USDA-OIG). “The outstanding work of our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners who investigated this case and the prosecutors of the New Jersey Office of Attorney General made it possible to bring these individuals of a major animal fighting venture to justice. USDA-OIG has made animal fighting a high priority in order to demonstrate that these inhumane acts of cruelty to animals will not be tolerated.”

Pacelle said  Senator Booker’s FIGHT Act, co-authored by U.S. Senator John Kennedy, R-La., would provide enhanced law enforcement capacity to crack down on dogfighting and cockfighting. The Fighting Inhumane Gambling and High-Risk Trafficking (FIGHT) Act, S. 1529, has a House companion, HR. 2742, with 110 cosponsors.

“I consider passing the FIGHT Act in Congress as urgent a priority as we have at Animal Wellness Action and the Center for a Humane Economy,” Pacelle continued. “Only stronger laws and better enforcement of them will help prevent cruelty to animals like authorities discovered in Monmouth, Cumberland, and Atlantic counties.”

The bill has more than 500 endorsing agencies and organizations, including 200 law enforcement agencies. It would strengthen existing federal law against dogfighting and cockfighting by allowing a private right of action against dogfighters and cockfighting, banning on-line gambling on animal fights, allowing for criminal forfeiture of equipment and properties used in the commission of these crimes, and enhancing prohibitions on shipping fighting roosters through the U.S. mail. Animal Wellness Action has discovered that cockfighters annually send tens of thousands of live roosters for cockfights in boxes through the U.S. mail.

Center for a Humane Economy is a Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)(3) whose mission is to help animals by helping forge a more humane economic order. The first organization of its kind in the animal protection movement, the Center encourages businesses to honor their social responsibilities in a culture where consumers, investors, and other key stakeholders abhor cruelty and the degradation of the environment and embrace innovation as a means of eliminating both. The Center believes helping animals helps us all. Twitter: @TheHumaneCenter

Animal Wellness Action is a Washington, D.C.-based 501(c)(4) whose mission is to help animals by promoting laws and regulations at federal, state and local levels that forbid cruelty to all animals. The group also works to enforce existing anti-cruelty and wildlife protection laws. Animal Wellness Action believes helping animals helps us all. Twitter: @AWAction_News