Eighty-nine dogs were rescued and 10 people were arrested Monday when Suffolk County authorities said they made one of the largest dog fighting ring busts in New York State history.
The suspects were charged with violation of the prohibition of animal fighting, conspiracy, as well as overdriving, torturing and injuring animals, among other charges.
“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,” Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini said. “These arrests represent a significant blow to dogfighting, certainly here on Long Island and we believe it will have impacts throughout the Northeast.”
Authorities said the suspects bred dogs and set them up in practice fights when the puppies were as young as six months old, with those spawned from successful fighters sold for the highest prices. The dogs were raised in inadequate living conditions with improper sustenance as well as rigorous training programs designed to increase their tenacity, agility, and bite strength. Once old enough, the dogs would be booked in fights, but in some cases where the dogs underperformed, they would be euthanized, authorities said.
When authorities executive search warrants, they found veterinary surgical supplies, “rape stands” that are used to immobilize female dogs during breeding, and plugging cords that are used in the electrocution of dogs, among other dogfighting paraphernalia, according to investigators.
The probe was a joint investigation that included the Suffolk County Police Department, New York State Police, New York City Police Department, Nassau County District Attorney’s Office, Nassau County Police Department, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of the Inspector General, Connecticut State Police, Massachusetts State Police, and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which helped relocate the dogs to emergency shelters, where they were provided treatment.
Suffolk County Acting Police Commissioner Stuart Cameron called it “one of the most disturbing cases I’ve seen in my 36 years with our department.”
Sini added that his office is empaneling of a Special Grand Jury to investigate the case to develop strategies to better protect animals and to make legislative recommendations to combat animal cruelty.
Sini said, “We need to hold these bad actors accountable for their violent actions and these crimes need to be treated seriously under our law.”
The suspects face up to 20 years in prison, if convicted of the top counts.