ORANGE, Conn. (WTNH) — Three Connecticut men and now 15 dogs in total have been seized in connection with dogfighting that crosses state lines, state police said Tuesday.
On July 31, Connecticut State Police raided a property on Britannia Street in Meriden and seized eight Pitbulls found in cages in the backyard. Police discovered a large makeshift and portable dog-fighting ring and seized numerous items associated with dogfighting.
“These pit bulls were viciously abused and conditioned to be aggressive and violent fighters,” Attorney General William Tong said at the time. “A multistate police investigation is ongoing and those responsible for these heinous crimes will be held to justice.”
Police revealed in October, the search warrant for this property was obtained as a result of a lengthy investigation with the Suffolk County, New York Police Department into an active, illegal dogfighting syndicate.
The Suffolk County District Attorney announced back in August, 10 arrests have been made in the case at the time, and 89 dogs have been rescued, at that time (81 in New York and eight in Connecticut). They said the “arrests represent one of the largest takedowns of the dogfighting ring in New York State history.”
On Sept. 27, police in Connecticut found and arrested men – considered fugitives from justice – in connection to the investigation: Getulio Vargas Maedo, 46, of Bridgeport, Jose Rivera, 42, of Meriden, and Nelson Rivera, 43, of Meriden.
All three are detailed without bond. They appeared in court on Sept. 28. Police say criminal charges related to animal cruelty are anticipated.
On Oct. 5, police and animal control executed a search warrant at 968 Grassy Hill Rd. in Orange after an investigation into suspected animal cruelty. It was suspected the owner was keeping dogs for fighting.
The Grassy Hill address, too, was developed from leads in the illegal dogfighting investigation with the Suffolk County Police Department.
In the search Tuesday, police seized many items of evidence indicating dogs were being used for illegal fighting at the property. Additionally, dogs found in outdoor kennel structures on the property were found in unsanitary conditions and tethered in their cages in an unlawful manner.
As a result of the search, seven dogs were seized and placed in the care and custody of the state Department of Agriculture and will be housed at the Milford Animal Control.
Director of the Dan Cosgrove Animal Shelter in Branford, Laura Burban, told News 8 Thursday she once rescued a dog used as bait in dogfighting. He arrived in rough shape; he was named “Freedom.” Burban says she’s relieved police are taking this case so seriously.
“I’ve been in this industry going into 14 years and I haven’t seen something like this happen in my time being an animal control officer in the state. So I was very encouraged by the fact that this was being taken so seriously.”
She says all it takes is a neighbor to see something to stop dogfighting. If you hear a lot of dogs barking on a property, see a lot of kennels, or treadmills, these are all associated with the illegal activity.