14 arrested in 4 Philadelphia dog fighting raids

April 11, 2011 6:00:45 PM PDT
A total of 14 people have been arrested and more than a dozen dogs rescued after four dog fighting busts in Philadelphia.

The names of those arrested have not yet been released.

In the first case, animal cruelty investigators say they had a building, located on the 2600 block of Gerritt Street in Grays Ferry, under surveillance for months.

They told Action News that they got word a dog fight was in progress late Sunday night, and some of the most wanted dog fighters in the city were inside the house.

"We've had some of these individuals, who showed up at this fight, under surveillance for quite some time," said George Bengal from the Pennsylvania SPCA. "To finally have them all get together in one location was a big win for us."

Authorities say they found as many as 20 suspects hiding in spots all over the house - in the sinks, under garbage in the basement. They took them out in handcuffs one by one.

Investigators believe they moved in just in time to save the two pit bulls involved in a fight, although the dogs are in bad shape - injured and bleeding as they cowered in fear in the back of a SPCA van.

About a half dozen dogs in all, described as emaciated and in poor condition, were discovered in cages in the house and locked up outside in cars. The dogs were taken to the SPCA for treatment. They will be held there as evidence pending future trials.

Investigators consider this one of the biggest dog fighting busts ever in the city of Philadelphia.

George Bengal said, "This is huge. Some of the biggest fighters in the city were here."

Then, on Monday morning, PSPCA investigators then moved to a home located on the 2800 block of Boudinot Street in the city's Kensington section. Upon carrying out their warrant, officers found 12 caged dogs in the basement of the home along with guns, a large amount of cash, and a large quantity of drugs, including heroin, crack and marijuana.

Investigators say one of the men arrested at the Grays Ferry location resides at the Kensington residence. His wife was taken into custody during Monday morning's raid.

A third location was raided late Monday morning in the 3000 block of Potter Street, also in the Kensington section. One dog was rescued there.

Few people were willing to talk about the raids, but one man said he couldn't believe what was going on in his own neighborhood.

"This is messed up. Like, can't believe that - fight dogs," J.R. Richardson. "Who does that?"

Bengal says dog fighting is accepted in parts of these communities. It's big business, he said, mainly due to gambling.

Along with it usually comes other illegal enterprises.

"This is, along with a blood sport, is a gambling operation. It's like going to a card game. They're betting on these animals. It's like going to a fight," Bengal said.

Investigators also say they found weapons, marijuana and heroin, and more than $10,000 in cash during the raids.

SPCA pleads for people to adopt animals

The Pennsylvania SPCA sent out an urgent request on Monday for anyone interested in adopting an animal to come to the shelter at 350 E. Erie Avenue.

While the dogs rescued in the current operation are not available yet for adoption, the SPCA says it is running out of room and needs their current animals to find homes.

The SPCA said it has hundreds of dogs that are available for adoption.