Many pet owners try to protect their dogs from harm and ensure that their animal has the best level of care. This can include spending hours every day taking them for walks, making sure they have the best nutrition with the highest standard of dry dog food or can be as simple as knowing that your canine has a safe and warm home.

Unfortunately, not everyone has this approach when it comes to animals and many dogs are forced to take part in illegal fighting. Police in the US have rescued more than 360 pitbull terriers and arrested 12 people who are accused of this form of animal cruelty, according to officials.

Many of the dogs were malnourished and showed various signs of being mistreated and more than $500,000 (£320,000) were recovered from various raids in the Alabama and Georgia areas.

According to US attorney George Beck, people were paying in excess of $200,000 to bet on a single dog which was taking part in the illegal sport. Those arrested will face federal dog fighting and illegal gambling charges. He said that the number of dogs that were seized during the raids indicates the extent to which dog fighting exists in the underground scene.

Speaking for the some of the defendants, court-appointed lawyers told the Associated Press that their clients planned to plead not guilty.

"I believe if Dante were alive today and rewriting the Inferno that the lowest places in hell would be reserved for those who commit cruelty to our animals and to our children," said Mr Beck at a news conference earlier in the week.

The hundreds of dogs, many who were emaciated and wounded, have been taken to temporary shelters which will treat and care for the animals, according to a statement published by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

It was the second-largest dog fighting raid in American history but it is hoped that all the dogs will be able to be rehomed.

The ASPCA said: "The dogs, ranging in age from just several days to 10-12 years, had been left to suffer in extreme heat with no visible fresh water or food. Many are emaciated with scars and wounds consistent with dog fighting, and some were tethered by chains and cables that were attached to cinder blocks and car tires."

Written by: Hannah