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Feds break up ‘barbaric’ dog-fighting ring, busting five people


Federal authorities have accused five people of running an elaborate dog-fighting operation in the Florida Panhandle, where one of the suspects even conducted surgical procedures on the animals without a veterinary license.

Prosecutors said the fights took place at C Wood Kennels in Pensacola and that Shane Sprague, 35, and Derek Golson, 38, arranged multiple events, allowing dogs to attack “bait” animals and trafficking dogs from outside Florida and via an underground dog-fighting website.

One of the defendants indicted on Wednesday, 24-year-old Haley Murph, would treat fighting dogs with a variety of veterinary tools, including steroids, skin staplers, sutures, scalpels and intravenous bags and lines, according to a news release. Authorities said the unlicensed vet performed surgical procedures so the kennel could avoid the scrutiny of a real doctor.

“Dogfighting is a blight on humanity, one that has no place in the Northern District of Florida or anywhere else,” U.S. Attorney Lawrence Keefe said in a statement. “We will continue to work with federal and local law enforcement agencies to root out this barbaric blood sport, in Florida and beyond.”

The other defendants named in the 44-count indictment are David Moser, 36, and James Peek, 67.

The five suspects were charged with violating the federal Animal Welfare Act.

This is at least the second dog-fighting ring discovered in Florida in the past three months. Eight other people were indicted in June after authorities found 100 dogs at a dog-fighting kennel in Gadsden County.