What appears to be a major dog fighting and Pit Bull-breeding operation was discovered in an East Oakland, Calif., home recently, with dogs chained and penned in squalor. Among them were five or six females that appeared to have recently given birth. The dogs were malnourished, and some had untreated wounds and injuries.
All the dogs were seized by Oakland Animal Services and are receiving care and medical treatment.
Reporter John Sasaki and a KTVU camera crew got what they called "a horrifying look inside the world of the alleged dog-fighting and breeding operation" during the confiscation and impoundment of the dogs on Thursday.
An agitated brown Pit Bull bit Oakland Animal Services interim director Dave Cronin while the TV cameras were rolling. Cronin said the vet who examined the dog recommended it be either euthanized or released back to the owner under the conditions that the dog is immediately taken to the vet due to some serious medical conditions. Cronin showed the deep punctures and bruising on his knee from the bite but told KTVU the dog will not be released to the owner.
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The home contained numerous pieces of equipment and medications that are used in conditioning dogs for fighting; and the wounds and scars on the animals clearly indicate they have been in conflict with other dogs.
Interim Director Cronin says that Animal Services has identified the owner.
"He hasn't admitted that they were fighting dogs," Cronin said. "But he admitted that they are his dogs. And we want to talk to him about some of the equipment and medication, and what vet did he see, where he got the dogs and is he breeding dogs, things like that."
Cronin is also concerned about the number of puppies potentially being produced and sold.
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"If we have five or six female pit bulls, you know that's maybe 60 or 70 puppies in a year that are distributed throughout the community," he said. "Pit bull breeders can get $100 or more for each dog they sell."
"They're not pets," Cronin told KTVU. "They don't treat these animals like pets. None of these animals were treated like pets. They are simply a way to make $1000, $2000, $3000 over a weekend."
With an operation of this size, it is likely that even more that amount is being made from the gambling proceeds on fights.
Cronin said these dogs show many signs of living a hard life, including their untreated injuries and bite marks on the face.
Cronin said some of the dogs may be able to be adopted to homes, but it will take a very special owner to take them in.
Oakland has nine dog ordinances, at least five of which the owner of the dogs was violating, Cronin told KTVU. Animal Services will continue its investigation to determine if there is sufficient evidence to prove the owner of the dogs is also guilty of running a dog fighting operation.
Unlike many states, California's dog fighting law does not contain a specific and separate charge for breeding dogs for the purpose of fighting, although proof can usually be easily found by a review of the detailed breeding records kept by most dog fighters. The pups from dogs that win fights and become Champions are more valuable and often sell for thousands of dollars each.