The three men operated different “kennels” on Long Island that actually served as the staging ground for the dogfighting ring, the AG says.
WYANDANCH, NY – Suffolk Police recently rescued 36 pit bulls and arrested three man after a takedown of a major dogfighting ring in Wyandanch, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced on Thursday.
Beginning in March, officials started “Operation Bloodline” after receiving multiple reports of dogfighting on Long Island.
As a result of the investigation, officials executed search warrants at 38 Birch Street and 135 Irving Avenue, where they seized evidence and rescued the pit bulls (ranging in age from one week to seven years), which led to the arrest Tuesday of Wyandanch residents 34-year-old Richard Davis, 49-year-old Martin Newkirk and 26-year-old Taikeem Wheeler, the attorney general said.
Officials said three were charged with multiple felony offenses of prohibition of animal fighting, fifth degree conspiracy and other animal cruelty crimes.
The trio all operated three different “kennels” that actually served as a staging ground for the dogfighting ring. The Attorney General said Davis operated the Roll Right Kennel on Birch Street, Newkirk operated the Rise ‘n’ Shine Kennel on Irving Avenue and Wheeler operated the Across the line Kennel on North 26th Street.
A total of 14 pit bulls were rescued from Davis’ Birch Street home, more than 20 pit bulls were rescued from Newkirk’s Irving Avenuehome and two pit bulls were rescued from Wheeler’s N. 26th Street home, the attorney general said. More than half the dogs rescued are puppies.
All 36 of the pit bulls were found imprisoned in “deplorable” conditions, often tethered with heavy chains and separated from one another, with no visible food or drinkable water, the Attorney General said. They also had injuries consistent with earlier fights. One had an untreated broken front leg and another was significantly underweight.
In addition, almost all of the adult pit bulls had fleas, dirty coats and long claws, evidence of their life on hard ground and indications that they had rarely been walked. The majority of the pit bulls were found to have bite wounds that left scars, none of which appeared to have been treated by a veterinarian.
“Dog fighting is a barbaric act that exploits the trusting nature of innocent animals and condemns them to a life of violence and suffering for human profit,” said Matt Bershadker, president and CEO of the ASPCA.
Police also recovered numerous items of dogfighting paraphernalia from the homes, including bloody breaking sticks (which are designed to separate pit bulls when one’s jaw becomes latched in a grip on its opponent while engaged in dogfighting), as well as numerous heavy chains, double-thick dog collars, weighted dog vests, treadmills and performance-enhancing dietary supplements, the attorney general said.
These items are often used to build strength in a pit bull’s neck and shoulders, to control its weight and to increase its endurance and stamina, as a dogfight to the death can last longer than an hour.
“Dogfighting is an obscenely vicious and cruel form of animal abuse that tortures animals and endangers the safety of the public. It’s barbaric, despicable, and illegal,” Schneiderman said. “No animal should be forced to fight to the death for human entertainment and profit, or bred and trained for that purpose.”
Two of the dogs found had to be euthanized because they had been attacked by their mother. A third dog, named Sophie, had been abused to such a degree that the ASPCA determined she was a threat to humans and had to be euthanized as well, the attorney general said.
“The Suffolk County Police Department will continue to seek out such depraved individuals who have the mistaken belief they have the right to beat, maim and murder innocent animals,” Suffolk County Police Commissioner Timothy D. Sini said. “There is no place in our county or society for such inhumane acts of abuse towards any animal and especially for profit.”
All photos courtesy of the Attorney General’s office