Police said they were forced to remove up to 50 dogs from the basement of 1254 Sherman Avenue in the Concourse section Thursday, where a suspected dog-fighting ring was being run. NY1's Dean Meminger filed the following report.
Scars on a pitbull's face represented evidence of what was going on in the basement of Sherman Avenue and 168th Street in the Bronx.
Investigators said 50 dogs as young as 12 weeks and as old as 5 years were bred, trained and put in fighting matches here.
"There is extensive training equipment," said NYPD Deputy Inspector Anthony Favale. "There's treadmills, it looks like homemade makeshift treadmills. They would put the dogs on to build them up and exercise them. There were areas that were clearly staged for fighting."
Some of the dogs looked like heavyweight fighters, full of muscles. Sources said it's possible they were injected with steroids.
After a year-long investigation, officers from the NYPD, Bronx District Attorney's Office and ASPCA moved in and arrested the super of the building. He was charged with animal cruelty and dog fighting. A handgun was also allegedly found in the basement.
The ASPCA said it is a horrible way to treat dogs.
"These dogs don't have a choice to fight," said Howard Lawrence of the ASPCA Humane Law Enforcement. "And when they're in that fight, they don't stand a chance. It is a brutal, brutal event. It's hard to describe as a sport. They're just tools of a brutal trade."
The alleged dog-fighting ring was almost like an invisible operation. People who live on this block said they never saw the super going in and out of the basement with dogs. But people who live in the building said the smell gave it away.
"Oh Lord, you could smell it through the whole building," said one resident. "The stench just rises up through the elevator shaft. It's not easy living over here, paying your rent and you have to go through this sort of situation. It's not right."
"I heard he's training them to fight," said another. "One of them dogs could come out and do something to a little girl or anybody ."
Officers say the investigation will continue because many other people may have taken part in this dog-fighting operation. The dogs have been taken to an animal shelter for treatment and to see if any of them can be put up for adoption.