Temperment testing continues on pit bull terriors seized from a multi-state dogfighting ring. The Humane Society of Missouri in St. Louis continues to house and treat nearly 450 pit bulls a month after they were taken from illegal kennels in seven states, including Missouri.
Jeane Jae with the Humane Society says it’s going to take some time to give each and every animal the attention needed to make reports on their condition and temperment. Those reports will go to the U.S. Attorney, who is bringing charges against the men who allegedly ran the dog fighting operation.
Jae says the U.S. Attorney has asked the Humane Society to not comment on the animals’ condition or temperment for fear it would compromise the investigation.
But she says the reaction from the public has been overwhelming. When the shelter brought in the hundreds of dogs, people brought in blankets, towels, and even bowling balls. Jae says they stuff the holes with peanut butter and it gives the dogs something to play with. She says the shelter is stocked on donated supplies now, but if they’re housed there for another long while, more might be needed.
Donations that go to the Humane Society’s animal cruelty fund have also helped in this case, she said.
Five Missouri men face felony charges in the case. If convicted, each count of the indictment carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and/or fines up to $250,000.
Arrests and seizures were made in Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Texas and Oklahoma Wednesday, July 8. Investigators from the Humane Society of Missouri Animal Cruelty Task Force provided the information that led to the investigation.
Acting United States Attorney Michael W. Reap says his office has indicted Michael Morgan, Robert Hackman, Teddy Kiriakidis, Ronald Creach and Jack Ruppel, charging they were involved in animal fighting ventures and dog fighting competitions.
Reap says they established and ran various kennel operations to purchase, breed, train, condition, and develop pit bulls for participation in the animal fighting ventures.
The indictment alleges that the defendants routinely inhumanely abandoned, destroyed, and otherwise disposed of the animals that lost fighting competitions, did not perform aggressively enough, or that became injured, wounded, or disabled as a result of participating in an animal fighting ventures.
In addition to the indictment unsealed today in the Eastern District of Missouri, 21 defendants were also charged in separate cases arising from the same investigation in the Western District of Missouri, the Southern District of Illinois and the Eastern District of Texas.
Headed by the U. S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Inspector General, this dog fighting investigation is the latest in a series of major animal fighting investigations conducted throughout the country since the passage of the Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act, signed into law in May 2007, which makes it a felony to participate in the blood sport.
The Missouri men accused of running the fight ring face the following charges: Michael Morgan, a.k.a. "Missouri Mike," 38, Hannibal — two felony counts of conspiracy to commit federal offenses and one felony count of prohibitions against animal fighting ventures; Robert Hackman, 55, Foley, two felony counts of conspiracy to commit federal offenses and two felony counts of prohibitions against animal fighting ventures; Teddy Kiriakidis, a.k.a. Teddy Bogart, 50, Leasburg, MO, one felony count of conspiracy to commit federal offenses; Ronald Creach, 34, Leslie, one felony count of conspiracy to commit federal offenses; and Jack Ruppel, 35, Eldon, two felony counts of conspiracy to commit federal offenses and two felony counts of prohibitions against animal fighting ventures.
Reap says Robert Hackman operated "Shake Rattle and Roll Kennel," Jack Ruppel operated "Ozark Hillbillys Kennel," Michael Morgan operated "Cannibal Kennel," and Ronald Creach operated "Hard Goodbye Kennel."