Photographs released by police show the sorry state of 17 dogs and puppies rescued by police from an illegal dog fighting ring in Los Angeles. Two men have now been charged and convicted with 10 counts of animal cruelty.
"Most of the dogs were injured, under weight, many had open sores and most had extreme case of flea infestation," said LAPD Chief William Bratton.
The LAPD's Animal Cruelty Task Force says its investigation into this ring began in February 2007. Authorities believed the suspects were training and breeding pit bulls to fight out of their home for more than 10 years.
Police say all the dogs they found were wearing 30-pound chains around their necks. A portion of the chain would be stuck in the ground, and police said the owners would use it to exercise the dogs and build muscle.
"Every single dog was staked out or separated in a kennel. Every single one of them had scars, fighting scars. They had scars on their face, on their chest, on their forelimbs," said LAPD Detective Susan Brumagin.
Also found in the home, a makeshift treadmill to exercise the dogs, and a breeding stall where males were kept head-locked so they wouldn't attack the female dogs.
The suspects, Walter Citizen and Arnett Counts, are now serving prison sentences for these crimes. Only some of these dogs can be rehabilitated for adoption, most of them were euthanized. Authorities are now offering a $5,000 reward to anyone who would be willing to report this type of abuse in the future.
"You have to understand a lot of people don't want to call because it's in their neighborhood and they're intimidated because of the possible gang connection," said Det. Brumagin.
"Do not abuse your animals. And if you do, we now have the people power and we're putting the muscle behind it to get you, to catch you, and to prosecute you," said L.A. City Councilman Tony Cardenas.
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