MORGAN COUNTY, Ind. – A Crime Stoppers tip led to a pair of search warrants being served in Morgan and Owen counties Indiana, where hundreds of birds and dogs were recovered as part of an animal fighting investigation.
FOX 59 reports as a result of the raids, Martin Anderson of Camby was arrested at his home on Handley Road at about 9 a.m. Thursday. At that location, investigators say they seized one pit bull and searched for documents.
Meanwhile, in Owen County, investigators were moving in on the LMB Farm, reportedly owned by Anderson, where more than 550 birds and nine pit bulls were recovered in what a release from conditions the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) described as, “consistent with dog fighting…and…commonly associated with cock fighting.”
The pit bulls were weighted down with heavy chains and housed in a manner consistent with dog fighting breeding while the roosters have been physically altered for cock fighting, according to the ASPCA.
“We do a lot of these in a year so this is a good size operation,” said Jessica Rushan of the ASPCA. “There are a lot of animals here.”
Indiana Gaming Commission Superintendent for Law Enforcement Rob Townsend said the tipster told investigators they would find roosters trained for fighting.
“We don’t have anything at this point that leads us to believe that there is fighting going on here,” said Townsend. “Basically we have the tip that they’re being raised for the purpose of fighting and that’s why we acted.”
Townsend says his office has received 37 tips in the past two years about animal fighting for gambling purposes in Indiana.
While the Owen County seizure was of average size, Townsend said the number of birds and dogs would overwhelm the abilities of his agency and local animal shelters to handle.
Rushan said the ASPCA typically assists law enforcement in logistics after a raid goes down.
“It’s definitely difficult conditions for the birds,” said Rushan. “We’re providing food and water, they all live outdoors, of course, so we’ll make sure they are provided with a comfortable place to sleep indoors out of the elements, but it’s definitely a muddy mess back there today and pretty wet.”
The ASPCA provided two semi-tractor trailers to haul the animals to an undisclosed location for safekeeping and veterinary examination for evidence of fighting.
Townsend said that while the ASPCA, a not-for-profit entity, provided logistical support, his agency was solely responsible for the investigation.
“We rely on them very heavily and we have a great partnership with them in the state of Indiana and whenever we do one we always reach out to them and ask them for help,” he said. “We have built the investigation and developed the probable cause for the search warrant. They have subject matter expertise that comes on the property on the day of the search warrant and helps us build and continue on that foundation.”
Anderson is being held in the Morgan County Jail on one count of purchasing an animal to be used in an animal fighting contest. If convicted he faces up to two –and-a-half years in prison and a $10,000 fine.