2 arrested in bust of Chester County dog fighting ring

WEST CHESTER, Pa. - December 12, 2012

Police say the two suspects now behind bars treated their children like dogs and treated their dogs like no living creature should ever be treated.

It was a vicious dog fighting operation that involved unspeakable torture and neglect.

"From a prosecutor's standpoint this is troubling," said Chester County D.A. Thomas Hogan. "From the standpoint of a human, from the standpoint of a man who loves dogs, this is disgusting."

When police raided the house in West Brandywine, they found a blood spattered dog fighting arena in the basement.

And they found the tools of torture that were used on dogs that failed to perform. Some were electrocuted, some were hanged and some were shot. One was left on the side of the road and burned to death in his cage.

Police also found five malnourished children in the house ages 3-to-15 who had been living in squalor. They also found a copy of Parenting Magazine.

"A kid getting bit by one of these dogs," said Hogan. "A kid living in the middle of dog fighting, and there's a 'Parenting' magazine. I'm pretty sure nowhere in this magazine does it say, 'This is how to raise children.'"

Police have arrested the parents of the children, Shane Santiago and Laura Acampora. They face multiple counts of child endangerment and cruelty to animals.

Police say Santiago admitted he had been involved in dog fighting since he was 12. They say he also admits he had hanged or electrocuted at least ten dogs.

Police say he kept up to 16 dogs at a time in kennels in the back yard of his rented house. The SPCA was able to rescue six of them, and many had been scarred in battle. They're not sure yet if they're adoptable.

"We're continuing to take care of their injuries, give them proper vet care and socialize them," said Rebecca Turnbull of the Chester County SPCA. "And then we'll be able to evaluate their temperament and see what the future holds for them."

Investigators say Santiago had a dogfighting website that may lead to many more suspects both here and out of state. They say dog owners from up and down the east coast brought their dogs to Santiago's dogfighting arena.

The five children, whom one investigator described as extremely malnourished, are being cared for by relatives.

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