Nearly 600 animals were rescued this week from two properties in Indiana where owners were suspected of running dog and rooster fighting rings.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) said in a press release on Thursday that 550 roosters and nine pit bulls were rescued from one location in Owen County, while another dog was rescued at a home of another Indiana resident one county over.
At least one person was arrested in connection with the animal fighting investigation, according to a local Fox affiliate.
Superintendent Rob Townsend of the Indiana Gaming Commission said in a statement that the investigation began on a tip to the state's Crime Stoppers phone line. ASPCA said that state officials partnered with multiple local animal welfare groups during the investigation.
“There’s no place in Indiana communities for animal fighting and the illegal gambling that goes with it, and we are very pleased that we were able to shut down this operation,” Townsend said.
“This investigation started with a tip from a concerned citizen to Crime Stoppers, and by raising more awareness about this type of activity we see an increase in reports from the public that better allow us to tackle animal cruelty in our communities," he added.
Animal welfare advocates said that several dogs were found chained in a manner that suggested abuse and their participation in dogfighting, while many of the roosters rescued by state officials were reportedly found with "physical alterations" that experts said were consistent with cockfighting.
“Animal fighting is one of the most heinous forms of animal cruelty, and sadly it is far more common in the United States than many people realize,” ASPCA spokeswoman Jessica Rushin said in a statement.
“To betray animals by forcing them to fight for their lives for so-called entertainment is despicable. We’re proud to work alongside the Indiana Gaming Commission to remove these dogs and birds from pain and suffering and hold those involved responsible," she added.