Nearly 50 dogs, most of them Pit Bulls, were saved from a makeshift basement fighting arena in the Bronx, N.Y., yesterday.
The New York Daily News reported that the apartment building’s super, Raul Sanchez, had turned the windowless room into a staging area for dogfights, including enough seating for 100 spectators.
The NYPD and ASPCA removed the petrified and scar-covered dogs, which ranged in age from puppies to 5-year-olds. Many of the dogs squinted in the sun, having never seen daylight.
“It’s pretty horrific inside — horrible conditions. I couldn’t even describe it,” NYPD Deputy Inspector Anthony Favale said at a press conference televised on NBC 4 New York. “The dogs appear to be in various stages of abuse and injury.”
Howard Lawrence, senior director of operations for the ASPCA’s Humane Law Enforcement department, said at the press conference that dog-fighting injuries typically include scars and old wounds.
“As you saw the animals coming out, you saw the white marks on their front paws and faces – those are all scars,” he said.
For more than a year, Sanchez was a basement breeder. He kept the dogs in 22 stacked, filthy cages and, based on the evidence recovered, used brutal training methods.
Police found six treadmills rigged with harnesses, along with syringes, muzzles, a handgun and a shopping cart filled with raw chicken parts.
The dogs’ vocal chords had been damaged to prevent them from barking, so neighbors of the Sherman Avenue building said they had no idea what was going on in the basement.
Sanchez was charged with six criminal counts, including felony charges for training the dogs to fight and for allowing dog fighting, which is illegal in all 50 states.
Despite their ordeal, all of the dogs were reportedly responsive and in overall good condition. They were taken by the ASPCA to a shelter.
Lawrence said the dogs would be examined by a vet and ASPCA specialists would assess their behavior.
When asked if and when they’d be available for adoption, Lawrence told CBS New York, “I think we’re getting ahead of ourselves with that. Let’s just see how they are, just get them medically sound, do behavior assessment and we’ll take it from there.”
Earlier this week, Ellen, one of the oldest survivors of Michael Vick’s dog-fighting operation, crossed the Rainbow Bridge at the age of 11. When Ellen and other dogs from Vick’s Bad Newz Kennels were seized in 2007, some humane societies felt they should be euthanized. Instead, the dogs were rehabilitated, and many were adopted into loving homes. Ellen, considered one of the friendliest dogs at the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, became an ambassador for the facility.
PHOTO: @NYPDnews Twitpic