Twenty-six people are facing felony charges following a large dog fighting ring bust in Orange County, Florida. Police said they discovered a sophisticated operation which spanned Orange, Seminole and Volusia counties.
Police Chief Robert Manley said the fights were a big moneymaker. He said the man who lived in the home, Adelle Dawson, was going to make between $7,200 and $8,000 that night until police made the bust, according to BayNews 9.
Officers took a total of 24 men and two women to the Orange County Jail. Some were charged with being spectators at the fight or baiting animals, among other charges, Police Capt. Randy Fernandez said.
Apopka police received an anonymous tip Tuesday from someone who reported dogs fighting in the backyard of a home and several vehicles parked across the street from the residence, police Capt. Randy Fernandez said in a release.
Officers heard the dogs fighting upon arrival, and many of the human participants tried to run when they spotted police.
After separating the fighting dogs, officers found cages containing chickens, a rabbit and a raccoon, animals known to be used in baiting and/or fighting animals, Steroids and other drugs used in dog fighting were also found, Fernandez said.
Orange County Animal Control rescued the bait animals as well as the Pit Bulls used in fights — all of which were emaciated with multiple injuries, old and new. They also removed a mother Pit Bull and her newborn puppies.
One of the dogs was taken out on a stretcher. Police believe that dog was involved in the first of four fights at the home.
DOG FIGHTING RING BIGGER THAN EXPECTED
Police said it was a mobile dog-fighting operation that was conducting a dog fight when officers arrived.
A confidential informant told police the dog-fighting ring would travel throughout central Florida and the group would allegedly coordinate fights through social media, Channel 9 reported.
When investigators arrived and broke up the ring, the dogs' owners abandoned them in cars and crates or let them loose in the neighborhood. Puppies were found in cages as well.
Apopka Police said the dog-fighting ring was much bigger than they expected.
Between 25 and 40 people ran into the neighborhood on 7th Street. Many of them were caught but didn't answer questions as they were hauled off to jail.
Seven people who were arrested were injured.
"We've had seven transported tonight, four of them with Taser deployments, one of them was apprehended by an Apopka K-9, and then several others were for other illnesses related to their attempts to flee," said Sgt. Kim Walsh of the Apopka Police Department.
Apopka police said they've been investigating the dog-fighting ring for over two months.
"I do not understand and will never understand who can get pleasure out of the cruelty of that," said Sgt. Walsh.
CONDITIONS FOR BOTH CHILDREN AND DOGS “DEPLORABLE”
Apopka police allowed WFTV to see the conditions that the animals were forced to live in before the 24 dogs were rescued.
Pit Bulls were chained and were friendly to humans but not to each other. There were large collars found nearby and at least two dozen pot plants growing.
The smell was overwhelming with so many dogs and cages, Channel 9 reporter Steve Barrett said.
One dog that was rescued had a broken leg and was walking on its knuckles.
A raccoon used to train the dogs to fight was also rescued. Authorities found the carcass of another raccoon that had been killed.
The actual dog-fighting ring was walled off but that wall was knocked over as dozens fled during the raid, authorities said.
In one room, there was a punching bag used to train the dogs to attack and treadmills used to exercise the dogs.
Delvaughn Dawson who lives in the home, told Channel 9, it was not part of a dog-fighting ring and his dad, one of the arrestees, loves dogs and likes to take them in. “Pops always been taking in dogs whenever someone has a hurt dog,” Dawson said
He said the treadmill was used to keep the dogs in shape and the punching bag was his.
Authorities said dogs weren’t the only ones living in the deplorable conditions, but children were as well. Two children, 5 and 6 years of age, were removed and are being looked after by their grandparents under supervision of the Department of Children and Families, according to Channel 6 News.
Officials said the dogs will remain in the hands of Orange County Animal Services to be evaluated. The animals will be in isolation because they are too aggressive with each other to be together.
Officials cannot yet determine how many of the dogs will be adoptable
Police said dogs used in previous fights are believed to be buried in the yard.
The city has condemned the house, according to BayNews 9.
Suspects charged with dog fighting and animal cruelty could face up to a $10,000 fine or three years in prison, Many were released on bail and are facing only 3rd degree felony charges, which could mean only fines or probation, Channel News 6 reported.
The people arrested are as follows, according to BayNews:
John Henry Anderson Jr., 32
Renaldo J. Bell, 26
Carlos S. Blue, 37
Ted V. Bouler, 26
Jesse J. Combs, 43
Mona M. Cumberland, 32
Adell Dawson, 39
Markeith Duncan, 24
Sidney H. Garrett Jr., 37
Chante A. Goffe, 25
Terrance Haynes, 31
Deleon Hendley, 30
Je Reme Fritzroy Herbert, 22
Devon J. Jackson, 32
Dale Jones, 48
Kevin Latroy Jones, 30
Martin Kerney, 25
Jeriel Mincey, 33
Derrick L. Morss, 41
Benjamin Ponder, 26
Latoya L. Rockmore, 28
Vernon C. Scott, 33
Jarrod Davon Swinton, 23
Antonio White, 30
Markeith Williams, 24
Jonathon T. Wright, 21