St. Johns County Animal Control officers investigating a cruelty complaint in Flagler Estates early Thursday seized nine pit bulls authorities think were being trained for dogfighting.
All of the adult dogs had numerous scars and two were bleeding. Two other dogs were 6-week-old black-and-white puppies. One dog has died from injuries that appear to be from dogfighting.
Paul Studivant, manager of the Animal Control department, said officers had also collected a truckload of equipment for training fighting dogs.
Confiscated were a treadmill, weights, chains, body harnesses, protective gloves and a well-chewed wooden "break stick," used to separate the jaws of dogs while they're fighting.
"We've seized enough stuff out of the house to show that there's still dogfighting in St. Johns County," Studivant said.
The tools of the trade.
The law says a person may be prosecuted for a separate felony charge for each piece of dogfighting equipment found in his possession, Studivant said.
Also found in the home were medications used in training fighting dogs, such as penicillin, multiple syringes, dusty wettable sulfur, hydrogen peroxide for wounds, horse and stable insecticide, vials of serum to fight distemper, hepatitis and pan-influenza in dogs, vitamin supplements, Electro Dex, a food additive for horses fed to dogs, and a harness used to toughen up the dogs bite by hanging them by their jaws.
One dog seized was an emaciated female that was apparently used for breeding.
Also found, Studivant said, was a bolt cutter, which he said might have been used for stealing dogs to be used as practice bait for the fighting dogs. He said he found three collars that appeared to be from yard or hunting dogs because their tags had been torn off and the collars had no use in dog-fighting training.
He believed those dogs had been used for fighting practice.
"We have no idea where these dogs are," Studivant said. "But dogfight trainers [have been known to] tie up a [stolen dog's] mouth and let their dogs tear him apart. It's an ugly, painful death."
None of the seized dogs will be placed for adoption. County ordinance prohibits pit bulls from being adopted.