A 40-year-old man ran a dog-fighting ring out of his house and has been arrested on multiple animal cruelty charges, police said.
One of the dogs had nearly 250 scars and wounds, experts said.
Rafael Jesus Del-Valle Jomarron was charged with four counts of animal cruelty – causing cruel death, pain or suffering; one count of animal fighting act – baiting, breeding, owning animal; and one count of animal fighting act – sell, possess, use equipment for fighting or baiting.
Detectives say that Del-Valle-Jomarron is a convicted felon who operated an organized dog fighting ring at his home.
The Collier County Sheriff’s Office in California initiated the month-long investigation on June 9 after deputies learned of a possible animal abuse situation at Del-Valle-Jomarron’s residence.
Deputies observed multiple dogs in metal cages in the backyard, according to the sheriff's office.
The dogs had injuries in various stages of healing, and cops say they appeared “malnourished, scared and stressed.” There were also multiple roosters that had injuries and lost feathers.
An above-ground pool was filled with sawdust and what appeared to be a baiting device typical of the kind used in animal fighting, according to the sheriff's office.
There were numerous dog tie-outs with thick harness ropes in the middle of the yard.
Detectives executed a search warrant later that day and seized six female bull terriers, one female hound dog, two male bull terriers and a rooster with severe injuries to its chest and back. Three of the female dogs were pregnant, and one of the pregnant females had a “gaping laceration to its chest,” police said in a statement.
The search also found vials of suspected anabolic steroids and performance-enhancing supplements for animals. Detectives got a second search warrant to conduct forensic exams on the nine seized dogs and rooster.
A forensic veterinarian found numerous wounds and scarring on all of the dogs consistent with organized dog fighting. One of the dogs, a black and white 3-year-old male bull terrier, had 249 scars and wounds, while a 3-year-old female bull terrier had 109 scars and wounds.
"The ASPCA forensic veterinarian is of the opinion that the dogs' past and present injuries are consistent with organized dog fighting and they were suffering and in pain from past and present injuries/untreated medical/dental conditions," according to the arrest report.
According to the report, the current injuries were suspected to have been inflicted seven to 10 days before the exams.
The rooster, whose injuries were so severe that he was going to be euthanized, is “in pain and suffering,” cops say. He is currently being treated.
ASPCA behavioral scientists also examined the dogs and determined the animals were consistent with other dog fighting cases they had assessed, according to the arrest report.
Police are in the process of filing paperwork to legally seize the dogs. The animals will remain in the custody and care of Collier County Domestic Animal Services.
Sheriff Kevin Rambosk said everyone involved in the investigation has worked tirelessly to rescue the dogs and arrest the person responsible for their abuse.
“These innocent animals endured repeated torturous abuse, suffering and pain," Sheriff Rambosk said. "We are pleased that we, along with our partners with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Collier County Domestic Animal Services, have delivered them to a safe and healing environment and are bringing their abuser to justice.”
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