49 dogs, including puppies, were recovered from a suspected dogfighting and breeding ring in Pierce County, Washington, deputies announced Thursday.
Deputies said Pierce County Animal Control received a tip that multiple pit bulls at a residence in Tacoma appeared to be starving and were possibly used for breeding.
An animal control officer contacted the owner, who showed the officer six dogs.
“All of them were malnourished, had wounds and scars and were afraid of the owner. Three of the dogs appeared to have given birth to puppies within the last six months,” deputies wrote in a news release.
On Wednesday, Pierce County Animal Control officers served a search warrant at the residence.
Officials with the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, the Washington State Gambling Commission and the Seattle Animal Shelter were on hand to assist.
“During the search, officers found dozens of dogs locked in crates inside a garage with no ventilation or lighting. The dogs were lying in their own urine and feces,” deputies said.
Deputies said they also found paraphernalia associated with dogfighting and breeding, including medications, syringes, first-aid supplies and training tools.
Most of the dogs removed were rated as being in poor or very poor body condition, officials said.
Eleven of the dogs needed medical attention and the others were transported to the Tacoma Humane Society, according to deputies.
The owner, a 40-year-old man, was booked into the Pierce County Jail on suspicion of animal cruelty and animal fighting.
“Dog fighting is a brutal blood sport that is almost always operated solely for the purpose of conducting illegal gambling,” said Washington State Gambling Commission Director Dave Trujillo. “Thanks to a tip from an alert citizen, we’re able to shut down this criminal operation and rescue dozens of dogs.”
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