Thursday, November 29, 2012

Florida Dog Fighters: Busted!

Dog fighting ring operating for decades busted by authorities in Florida.

By: O Jefferson

Rudolf was rescued from a dog fighting ring that had been operating for decades and was closed down by authorities in Hillsborough County, Florida.

A dog fighting operation, which appears to have been operating for decades, has been closed down by Hillsborough County authorities in Seffner, Florida after they received an anonymous tip.

Upon arriving at the large and remote property yesterday, they discovered one of the largest dog fighting rings they have seen in years. Although 7 dogs were rescued from the property, authorities expect to find hundreds of bodies on the property after one of two men arrested confessed.
One of the dogs rescued from the dog fighting ring receiving medical care.

"The individual there actually admitted to us that he has been fighting dogs out there for 20 years and jokingly said we were walking on a graveyard," said Sgt. Pam Perry, investigations manager for Hillsborough County Animal Services.

Authorities report the property had the stench of death and that it was clearly set up for dog fighting. They found a blood-stained pit, paraphanalia, mounds of earth, and other grisly evidence. "There was also a chain with a collar and as you reached the end of that chain with the collar and looked up to a mound there was a jaw and a skull of a dog," said Sgt. Perry.

The isolation of the property meant that neighbors a quarter of a mile away would likely not heard dogs barking or known of its existence. Neighbors expressed shock at learning of the dog fighting operation.

But someone knew enough to tell animal control that dogs were injured and not being properly treated, which lead investigators to the home at 6846 Stark Road.

The two suspects arrested were identified as 55-year-old Vannie Franklin and his nephew 41-year-old Russell Franklin. Both are facing a slew of felony charges including dog fighting, possession of animals used for dog fighting, animal cruelty, improper confinement, possession of marijuana, and possession of firearms by a convicted felon.

Six of the dogs rescued are pitbulls, and one black Labrador mix. Sgt. Perry could not say if all the dogs would survive their injuries, but one named Rudolf appears to have fresh gashes and wounds. His nose raw and red, Sgt. Perry hopes he will find a loving home. "They deserve to live the rest of their life in luxury," said Sgt. Perry of the rescued dogs. "Because they were living in a kill zone."

Hillsborough Animal Services recently found a dog buried to her neck and shot twice in the head. The search for a suspect in that case continues.

If anyone has with information about suspected animal cruelty in Hillsborough County, they can contact Animal Services at (813) 744-5660 or can call Crimestoppers at 1-800-873-TIPS.

The Humane Society of the United States also has a nationwide tip line to report suspected dog fighting at 1-877-TIP-HSUS and offers rewards for tips that lead to prosecution.

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