Efforts to combat dogfighting gain major ally in RICO statute

Dharma the three-legged pit bull is a survivor.

The canine was found mangled in 2009 when federal investigators busted a massive dogfighting ring that spanned from Illinois to Texas. The raids resulted in the seizure of more than 400 dogs and numerous arrests.

Animal welfare workers said Dharma wasn’t used in the dogfights but rather was left chained outside in rural Missouri to produce fresh litters of puppies. The dog’s abusers, they said, amputated one of her front legs.

Suzanne Schemm, the dog’s adoptive owner, believes Dharma, now 5, is lucky to have escaped from an underground world where crimes against animals are common but often difficult to solve and prosecute.

“This case was just the tip of the iceberg,” said Schemm, a southwest suburban resident, referring to the Missouri raid.

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