Eight of the Pit Bulls seized by the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office during a Cocoa-area bust last Friday won’t walk, said Sheriff Wayne Ivey.
The dogs were discovered at a home on Satellite Boulevard on Friday afternoon, according to WESH-TV, and Sheriff Ivey said that the conditions under which they were kept was “horrific.”
The eight dogs were young and did not show signs of having been fought yet. So the behavior could be a defensive, fear instinct combined with the fact that they were on short, very heavy chains with little food or water and some did not even have shelter, said officials.
They seem physically able to walk, and one did walk far enough to hide in the bushes, WESH-TV reports; but they have to be carried back and forth to the exercise area at the shelter. Patsy Porter, manager of the shelter where they were taken, believes that love will change that and they will be able to be adopted soon.
"They're timid; they're fearful. We're working to get them to come out of their shells so they can be adopted," Porter, said.
Officers said they found a total of approximately a dozen dogs chained, cowering and shivering at a home when they went to the address to investigate possible marijuana trafficking.
During the course of the search, they found a building about the size of a two-car garage, which contained a crudely made arena splashed with dog blood. The walls were insulated to muffle the screams of the dogs and the cheering of the gamblers for whom chairs had been set up to watch the dogs who have no choice but to fight for their lives—and usually to their death.
Agents also found unsanitary needles, steroids, antibiotics and antiseptic wound treatment used to treat wounds sustained from dog fights, says Space Coast Daily.
Neighbors told the officers that the dogs that didn't win are fed to the alligators in a nearby canal.
Sheriff’s Agents arrested Siricia Antwan Mitchell, 40, who lives at the location, for felony possession of cannabis, possession with intent to sell cannabis, two counts of possession of firearm by convicted felon, possession of a controlled substance and the possession of ammunition by convicted felon, according to Space Coast Daily.
The search warrant also yielded five pounds of marijuana, a cache of steroids and two loaded firearms as agents continued a narcotics investigation for the sale of illegal drugs from this residence.
This isn't the first time deputies have been to this home. Mitchell has a lengthy criminal history dating back to 2000, which includes multiple weapons charges, narcotics charges, attempted murder of a law enforcement officer, aggravated assault and battery of law enforcement officers, resisting arrest, fleeing and eluding law enforcement, and cruelty to animals.
In 2009, approximately 40 dogs were removed under similar circumstances. Mitchell currently has an active injunction resulting from that conviction and he is prohibited from owning or possessing dogs, Space Coast Daily reports.
Sheriff’s Office Animal Control Services responded to the location, along with Crime Scene Investigators to process the scene, collect evidence and safely rescue the dogs.
Multiple cruelty-to-animal charges are pending as agents further investigate the dog fighting operation, according to the report.
The dogs were voluntarily released by the owner and were taken immediately to the Sheriff’s Office Animal Shelter for evaluation, and medical treatment.
Sheriff Ivey told reporters, "I will tell you, anything that we can work with our state attorney to put criminal charges on, for the narcotics, for the dog fighting, for the conditions of the dogs, we're going to load the wagon.
“This individual has a long and violent history of dealing drugs, possessing firearms and dog fighting and hopefully this time he will be placed in prison where he belongs,”