21 pit bulls rescued from N.J. dog-fighting ring

Animal rescuers spent the weekend finding shelter and medical care for nearly two dozen pit bulls retrieved Friday from a dog-fighting ring unexpectedly discovered during a drug bust at a New Jersey home.

Of the 21 pit bulls rescued from the Paterson house - 18 were starving puppies - jammed into crates in the basement. Three maimed adult pit bulls were also rescued from the home.

Four other dogs were found dead, stuffed into plastic bags, animal control officer John DeCando told the Paterson Press and Record newspaper.

”It was horrible, he added. “This is one of the largest dog-fighting rings I’ve seen.”

Police discovered the dog-fighting ring while pursuing a drug investigation, finding blood-splashed walls from dog fights; steroids and needles; electronic collars to shock the dogs, and bloodstained sticks used to pry open their jaws, the newspaper reported.

Most of the animals were emaciated and afflicted with mange. Some were unable to walk.

Two persons, ages 21 and 32, were arrested on animal cruelty and drug possession charges, police said. In addition to the dogs, police found a handgun and an estimated $12,000 worth of crack cocaine and marijuana during the raid that began at 1 p.m. Friday.

After being nursed back to health, officials said that all of the dogs will be put up for adoption.

”Each dog is adoptable; not one will be put to sleep,” DeCando said. “They’re friendly. They just got hooked up with bad people.”

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