Operation Broken Chain

I could not believe it when I heard – Animal Rescue Corps was on the ground in Middle Tennessee once again, called to a property in Cheatham County on the evening of Thanksgiving.  When they arrived, they discovered 65 dogs living on chains, in what is suspected to be the largest dog fighting operation ever discovered in Tennessee. Operation Broken Chain was officially underway, and my heart was officially broken.

I watched the news in horror as I saw these poor precious dogs – most of them pit bull mixes – with heavy logging chains around their necks, tied to spikes in the ground.

Some of them were so malnourished, with skin stretched so tightly over their bones, that they had open sores just from sitting on the ground.

Others had scars on their faces and chests that told a gruesome story of abuse.

Along with the pit bull type dogs, there were a handful of Beagles and Hounds. One of the Hounds was pregnant, perhaps a side breeding business? Do I even want to know?

If their water dish was frozen over, how were they supposed to drink it??

*Sigh* and puppies….

Animal Rescue Corps has been in Tennessee seven times in the last several years, most recently with Operation Freedom this past summer, and Operation Sweethearts last year.  Does this mean that there’s a worse culture of abuse here than in other parts of the country? ARC president Scotlund Haisley says not necessarily. A lot of times, rural Animal Control offices simply don’t have the resources to handle such situations, and need the help. Thankfully, ARC is there to respond.

Just another day in the life of Agape Animal Rescue Director, Tanya Willis – kicking a$$ and saving lives.

Foster Dad and I spent this past Sunday out at the emergency shelter, set up in half of a warehouse in Lebanon, Tennessee.  It was cold and loud, but for these dogs it was the first place they’ve ever been “safe” in their lives.

This was such a different experience than the last couple rescues operations we’ve volunteered with. In Sweethearts and Freedom, most of the dogs were terrified of everything – especially us. But you guys, these dogs…in true pit bull fashion, these dogs wanted nothing more than human affection. As we distributed food and water, they were pushing against the doors of their cages trying to climb into our laps. As we passed by them, they would press their whole sides against their crates and wag their tails fiercely, in the hopes they might get a little scratch through the bars. And when we took them into the “potty area” to stretch their legs so we could clean their crates, most of them prefered to be in our laps covering our faces with sweet kisses, or chasing a rubber Kong around the room – experiencing “play” for the very first time. Every single one of them stole my heart.

Every single one of these dogs embodies the word “resilience” – no amount of abuse or neglect could break their spirits.

That day was the first full day the dogs were at the shelter, which was focused on getting all the dogs initial veterinary exams and documenting their conditions. The dogs didn’t even have names yet – but one of them sticks in my mind. A sweet brown and white girl with severe crate anxiety – the way she gnawed at that thing, she bloodied her nose trying to escape. But when she got out and into the potty area, even though her bones were visible under her skin and she walked as though she was in constant pain, after some cautious sniffing…she started to prance. Actually prance around the enclosure, chasing after a Kong. It’s like she suddenly realized, “Oh yeah! I’m a dog and it’s awesome!” It was absolutely amazing to see.

Even though we’ve not been able to go back since Sunday, these dogs have been in my mind non-stop since then. As much as these cases break my heart, I try so hard to think of it as the happiest time in theses dogs’ lives so far. After all, their suffering is over.

Operation Broken Chain in the news:

(Nov. 24) Dog Fighting Operation Busted
(Nov. 25) Rescued Dogs are being Nursed Back to Health
(Nov. 26) Federal Agents Investigate Dog Fighting Operation
(Nov. 26) 65 Dogs Removed from Suspected Dog Fighting Operation
(Nov. 28) Interview with Scotlund Haisley on Morning Line
(Nov. 28) Suspected Dog Fighting Operation Uncovered in Cheatham County

How you can help.



Filed under Our Foster Journey

35 responses to “Operation Broken Chain

  1. Jen

    Ok. I’m going to go hug all of my dogs now.


  2. Michelle

    Thank you so much to ARC and all that helped with this operation!


  3. Reading about these dogs and seeing the photos brings to to my eyes, even just thinking about it breaks my heart. You and all of those helping with this rescue are inspiring, you are giving those dogs the first dose of TLC that they have ever experienced and you restore my faith in people. Thank you.


  4. Wow, thank you for this post. It made me all teary! Thank you so much for lending your efforts to help these dogs. What an amazing story– keep us posted!!!


  5. I hadn’t hear about this and it just breaks my heart. Thank you for the amazing work you do on behalf of animals!


  6. What a wonderful first hand experience for something I have been glued to the internet following. As I’ve looked at the pictures I’ve fallen in love over and over. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to know that you were there touching them and giving them comfort. I know it sounds crazy since I know you only through the blog but it makes it personal for me. As though I got to be there through you. Did you happen to get to see the sweet little girl with no teeth. I would scoop her up in a second and kiss the skin on that sweet face. Thank you!


  7. Seriously choked up over here. These poor dogs. You said it – at least their suffering is over.


  8. I don’t understand how anyone can look into these adorable little faces and want to torture these dogs. Thank you for helping them!


  9. Rescue is the most amazing work you can do! Youre wonderful for helping, and I’m sure the dogs saved couldn’t be more thankful for your generosity and time.


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  11. kate with a camera

    omg this is so sad, it breaks my heart 😥 So amazing that you are a part of those rescue efforts. Thank you for the work that you do.


  12. Oh my word. Those dogs made me cry. I can’t wait to see how they progress with the love and attention they need!


  13. You are so wonderfully awesome. I hate the human who tortures animals — the work you and ARC do is heroic.


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  15. Such a sad story but it sounds like ARC is doing great work to reduce your local large scale abuse situations. Hope they continue to bust these places successfully until there are none left nearby.


  16. marybeth borylo

    please tell me they destroy the chains too…idiots would prob just re chain another if all stuff left….just a thought, never heard how they go about these kinds of large scale busts…


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  18. Did they prosecute the owners of the operation? I don’t think Tennessee is much different from alot of other states, this type of thing seems common in Florida as well. One more reason to adopt a rescue dog – why go to a breeder when all these sweet pups would be happy in your home… Thanks for the wonderful post.


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  21. Shana

    i can barely emotionally handle reading this and seeing the photo’s, so it is beyond my comprehension how anyone can actually DO this to these precious dogs. God bless you for loving and caring for – and rescuing – these sweet pups.


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  28. Cherry Jones

    One little brown pittie you freed during Operation Broken Chain was adopted last Christmas day. Norton had lived at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary for the past 2 years. Now he lives on my bed. After 6 months, he is learning to relax. I have known Norton for 2 yrs. Fell in love with him from day 1. He is a VERY fearful dog but he is learning to trust.


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