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US Sentences 8 for 'Extraordinarily Cruel' Dog Fighting Ring

Dogs sit at a home in Auburn, Ala. in this photo provided by the ASPCA. A federal and state investigation into dog fighting and gambling has resulted in the arrest of 12 people from Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and Texas, Aug. 23, 2013.

A U.S. federal court in Alabama has sentenced eight suspects for running what authorities call the second largest dog fighting ring in U.S. history.

The defendants will spend from six months to eight years in prison. They also will be banned from owning dogs after they are freed, and could face large fines to help pay for caring for the rescued dogs.

Prosecutors say the dogs suffered extraordinary cruelty and lived in deplorable conditions.

The animals were forced to fight and were killed if they lost. The fights also attracted drug dealers and illegal gambling.

Police with help from two animal rights groups broke up the dog fighting ring last year.

Dog fighting is outlawed in the United States. The farm bill President Barack Obama signed earlier this year also makes it illegal to attend a dog fight, and imposes even stronger punishment for bringing a child to such an event.

The country's most notorious dog fighting case involved NFL star Michael Vick, who spent nearly two years in prison for his part in running a dog fighting ring in 2007.

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