Thirty-six pit bulls have been saved from what appeared to be dog kennels, but were actually a breeding and training grounds for a giant dog fighting ring.
Three men were arrested for running the ‘kennels’ out of their Long Island homes.
Richard Davis, 34, Martin Newkirk, 49, and Taikeem Wheeler, 26, all of Wyandanch, New York, will face felony charges of animal fighting and animal cruelty which carries up to a four-year prison sentence.
The pit bulls range from one week to seven years old with half of the dogs being puppies.
Nearly all of them were found chained without food and water. They were visibly injured from fights with bite wounds that left scars.
The dogs had fleas, dirty coats and long claws. One had an untreated broken front leg while another was severely malnourished, authorities said.
‘This was truly a chamber of horrors for these dogs,’ said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
The two Long Island homes (pictured) were run as kennels but were found to be breeding and training grounds for dog fighting
The investigation called ‘Operation Bloodline’ began in March and led authorities to these homes
Thirty-six pit bulls were found starving and with visible injuries from fights
Martin Newkirk, 49, was arrested after 20 pit bulls were found in his home
Richard Davis, 34, (left) was found with 14 pit bulls in his home. Taikeem Wheeler, 26, had two pups in his home
‘Dog fighting is an obscenely vicious and cruel form of animal abuse that tortures animals and endangers the safety of the public,’ said Schneiderman. ‘It’s barbaric, despicable and illegal.’
The arrests came as part of a seven-month investigation called ‘Operation Bloodline’ which began in March. The investigation led investigators to issued search warrants for the homes which were known as the Roll Right Kennel and Rise ‘n’ Shine Kennel.
Fourteen pit bulls were rescued from Davis’ home, 20 from Newkirk’s home and two from Wheeler’s home.
All three kennels ‘actually served as staging grounds for the dog fighting ring,’ Schneiderman said in a statement.
Two of the dogs had to be euthanized because they’d been severely attacked by their mother, authorities said.
A third dog named Sophie had been so abused and tortured that the ASPCA determined that she had become a threat to humans and also had to be euthanized.
Dog fighters often make their money by selling dogs from strong ‘bloodlines,’ descended from other successful fighters. Puppies of fighter bloodlines sell for more than $1,600 per pup.
Half of the dogs found were puppies and three had to be euthanized because they were severely injured or a danger to humans
The dogs were found with fleas, dirty coats and long claws
One dog had an untreated broken front leg while another was severely malnourished
Wheeler allegedly touted Sophie as a champion dog fighter because of her bloodline as the daughter of another one of his pit bulls who had won many fights.
Police recovered dog fighting paraphernalia which indicated the sophistication of the breeding and training grounds.
Police found bloody breaking sticks to separate the strong jaws of the pit bulls, heavy chains, double-thick collars, weighted dog vests, treadmills and performance-enhancing pills to build strength and endurance.
The paraphernalia is often used to build strength in a pit bull’s neck and shoulders, to control its weight, and to increase its endurance and stamina, as a dogfight to the death can last longer than an hour.
Dog fighting is a crime in all 50 states. In New York, dog fighting and the breeding and training of dogs carry a maximum penalty of four years in jail and a fine of $25,000.
The dogs are currently being sheltered by the ASPCA in order to allow them to heal and hopefully be retrained and adopted.