My colleague Troy Graham reports that today officers from the Pennsylvania SPCA uncovered a dog-fighting ring at an East Germantown home and rescued several badly injured pit bulls found there.
Here's his story:
Following a tip to an animal cruelty hotline, the officers discovered two dead dogs and five others at the home, in the 200 block of East Bringhurst Street.
Three men, including the property owner and the alleged ringleader, are facing charges.
The bust comes in the wake of the Philadelphia Eagles' signing of quarterback Michael Vick, the country's best-known former dog-fighter.
Vick, who served 18 months in federal prison for running a dog-fighting operation, has pledged to speak out on the issue, casting a spotlight on the problem of dog-fighting in the city.
Monday, the Eagles plan to host a summit of area animal welfare groups at the NovaCare complex, the team's South Philadelphia training facility. Vick is not expected to attend.
"This particular bust is especially timely," said Gail Luciani, the chief public relations officer for the Pennsylvania SPCA, which is the only group in Philadelphia that employs humane law enforcement officers.
The humane officer who responded to yesterday's tip found two dead dogs in the yard of the home on East Bringhurst, and five others tied up nearby.
"The dogs were all scarred," said George Bengal, director of law enforcement for the Pennsylvania SPCA. "One appeared to have been in a real recent fight . . . He was still bleeding."
An 18-year-old man at the home told the officer that he was leaving with one of the dogs, then got into an altercation with the officer, Bengal said.
The man fled with the dog before being arrested.
Bengal said that the man was in charge of training the dogs. He also served as the "cut man."
"If the dogs were injured in a fight and they were worth saving, he was the one who tried to bring them back to health," Bengal said.
Bengal said he could not release the man's identity because charges had not been filed yesterday.
Charges were also pending against the owner of the home and a third man, identified as the leader of this particular dog-fighting ring.
Bengal said people who wanted to fight their dogs brought them to the home for training. Fights also were held there as recently as two days ago, he said.
"That whole block is a Mecca for fighting," Bengal said.
He said his officers investigate an average of 50 to 75 complaints of dog-fighting each month, most of them called in to the hotline.
To file reports of dog-fighting and other animal cruelty, contact the Pennsylvania SPCA at 1-866-601-SPCA or email@example.com.