An international animal protection organization is set to turn over evidence of an alleged dog fighting operation after removing 65 dogs from a property in Cheatham County on Saturday.
Officials with Animal Rescue Corps said the dogs found on Buckeye Road in Ashland City were mostly pit bull terriers and beagles, none with access to food or fresh water, and all requiring medical attention.
Now, ARC officials say they hope photos of abuse on the property will lead authorities to prosecute the owners of that land.
According to the rescuers, the Ashland City and Pleasant View fire departments discovered the animals when responding to a brush fire call at the address. The firefighters found the dogs chained at various places at the residence and called Cheatham County Animal Control.
One of the animals they found, nicknamed Honor, was apparently used as a breeding dog and had her teeth filed down so she would be non-aggressive. Now, volunteers are feeding Honor peanut butter because she can't chew.
ARC President Scotlund Haisley said his organization has photographs and physical evidence that proves the dogs were abused.
"As we've medically assessed the dogs, we will show they were wearing heavy chains," Haisley said.
Haisley said they also found nooses on the property as well as carcasses of dead animals.
"We believe this is the largest dog fighting rescue in Tennessee history," Haisley said. "The conditions Animal Rescue Corps found on this property are the worst I have ever seen at a dog fighting operation in my 22-year career in animal protection."
Animal control officials identified dog fighting equipment, such as a treadmill, fighting pen and a spring pole used for strengthening dogs' jaws.
This is the seventh time in only two years that ARC has been called to Tennessee due to a case of apparent animal abuse. Local animal rescue workers say that is because they are proactive about fighting abuse.
"We've had a great outreach of people who come to me and report abuse, and we look into it seriously," said Peg Petrelli, with ARC of Tennessee.
In the days following the Cheatham County rescue, many people have donated dog food for the animals, but volunteers say they could also use more straw for bedding, gift cards to buy pet supplies and food for the people who are helping the animals recover.
Most dogs will need extensive rehabilitation before adoptions begin.
Workers said the animals seem friendly to humans but are aggressive toward each other.
Everyone at the facility caring for the dogs says they will happy when the people responsible are put in jail.
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