Authorities celebrated New York City’s biggest ever dog fighting ring strike on Aug. 9.
Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini confirmed 89 dogs have been freed and 10 suspects detained, after police shut down an illegal pit bull training and fighting operation.
Between late July and early August 2021, officers raided residential properties in 11 locations across the Big Apple, Mastic, Hempstead, Uniondale, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. The far-reaching search was conducted just days before two out-of-state dog fights were scheduled to begin.
Ten suspects are accused of training puppies from as young as six-months-old for practice battles or “rolling” to test fighting aptitude. Canines that lost a fight, performed poorly, or were too severely injured were killed with “unlicensed medical treatments.”
Dogs that survived endured terrible living conditions throughout their adult lives, and were forced to tirelessly train for battles. Investigators confiscated what they considered to be horrific devices that would typically be used in a torture chamber.
Seized veterinary surgical supplies include skin staplers and ‘rape stands’ that are designed to immobilize female dogs for breeding. There were also plugging cords used for electrocution, steroids and other supplements for enhanced performance, and ‘break sticks’ to release a dog’s grip on another canine.
“These are defenseless animals that are bred for one purpose: to kill or be killed for the mere entertainment of these depraved individuals,” Sini said according to Newsday. “The only thing these defendants cared about were money, and their own personal status, in this sick underground network.”
Authorities revealed dog fights were very profitable, with individuals betting up to $175,000 on a single competition that could last for hours.
“Many of us have dogs as pets in our homes and we love them as another family member,” Sini said in a statement. “This case is about how a criminal network bred dogs, tortured them, and put them in serious harm’s way just to make a buck.”
Officials charged Mastic residents William Ashton and Darrel Madison, Bay Shore residents Jontae Barker and Jerome Chapman, Edward Hodge (Uniondale), Jeffrey Spencer (Wyandanch), Paul Whelan (Shirley), Timothy Eury (Hempstead), Charles Macwhinnie (Hampton Bays), and Joseph Owens (Amityville). Most of the suspects were aged between 32 and 80.
The investigation concluded inhumane dog fighting culture “persists in all corners of America,” and officers will continue to shut it down.