Sunday, December 7, 2008

30 pit bulls rescued from grisly scene

Thirty pit bulls -- many of them bloody, bitten and scarred -- and the remains of a badly mauled puppy were removed Friday from a Duquesne home.

"It was a pretty gruesome scene," said Katie Waters, a humane investigations officer for Ohio Township-based Animal Friends. "Many of them were severely injured, bloody, chewed up. ... (The injuries) were very obviously inflicted by other dogs."

"The puppy was chewed up," said Paul McIntyre, chief of Triangle Pet Control Service Co. of McKees Rocks, which has the animal control contract for Duquesne.

McIntyre and assistant Duquesne police Chief Scott Adams said the homeowner -- identified on county assessment records as Michael Wilson, 50 -- is being investigated for possible involvement in dogfighting.

"There is evidence that would lead a person to believe that dogfighting may have occurred inside the residence," Adams said.

The 30 pit bulls -- some puppies; others adults -- are being treated at the Triangle Pet Control facilities. All are expected to survive, Waters and McIntyre said.

Adams said police had no idea the dogs were inside the Viola Street home when they arrived about 1:15 p.m. with a search warrant to look for heroin.

Adams said his department and Allegheny County Police narcotics detectives are involved in an ongoing investigation into heroin dealing in Duquesne.

According to a criminal complaint charging Wilson with marijuana possession and conspiracy:

Police arrived at 11:20 a.m. yesterday in the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant in Duquesne to arrest Eugene Gant, also known as Eugene Gantt, on charges of possession with intent to deliver heroin and fleeing or attempting to elude police.

Adams and county detectives saw Gant and Wilson in a car listening to a police scanner. When they removed Wilson from the vehicle, a small package of marijuana fell to the ground. When Gant got out of the police car at the police station, a bundle of heroin fell from his lap.

The complaint states that Wilson is on federal probation for a previous heroin conviction.

The arrests of Gant and Wilson gave officers enough evidence to obtain a search warrant for Wilson's home, Adams said.

Officers did not find any drugs but did find the dogs as well as a handgun and more than $600 in cash, Adams said. The owner of the gun has not been determined, he said.

Many of the dogs were found "in absolute filth" in wired and plastic cages in the basement and first-floor of the home, Waters said. Two were chained outside.

Others were found running around a separate room where the puppy's carcass was found, McIntyre said.

"Some were very healthy, some looked like they hadn't eaten in a while," Adams said.

He said no charges are expected to be filed against a woman who was found inside the home.

However, he said he anticipates that Wilson -- who was arraigned in Night Court on the drug and conspiracy charges and jailed on $10,000 bond -- could be charged early next week with cruelty to animals.

Wilson's probation officer was notified of his arrest.

Michael Hasch can be reached at mhasch@tribweb.com or 412-320-7820.

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