Three men were arrested and 32 dogs were rescued after a Columbia dog fighting ring was recently broken up by law enforcement agencies, including the FBI and U.S. Marshals.
Three search warrants were executed April 11, and during those searches three men — Brooks Barcheen Gillie, Tony Shuler and Dequan Antonio Smith — were arrested for being felons in possession of a firearm and/or ammunition, according to FBI Supervisory Special Agent Donald A. Wood.
During the weapons searches, the dog fighting operation was discovered and the dogs were recovered, Wood said.
"These dogs were believed to be used in dog fighting events," said Wood, adding dog fighting paraphernalia was also recovered.
The dogs were taken to an American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals temporary shelter at an undisclosed location, where they are receiving medical care, abcnews4.com reported, adding the dogs will remain there until custody is determined by the court.
During the law enforcement searches, members of the Charleston Animal Society assisted in the recovery of the dogs, according to counton2.com.
Gillie, the resident of a home where dogs were found on Furwood Circle, not far from Monticello Road, told agents he didn't know about dog fighting, postandcourier.com reported, adding agents said they found ammunition and marijuana at the home along with Smith, who was sleeping on the property in a car with a loaded rifle inside.
Shuler was arrested after agents said they found a pistol and ammunition at a home on Rockyview Drive, according to postandcourier.com. The Rockyview Drive home is near Fairfield Road.
After the arrests, the ASPCA condemned dog fighting.
“Despite being a felony in all 50 states, dog fighting continues to be a popular underground activity and is more prevalent than many people think,” said Stacy Wolf, Senior Vice President of the ASPCA’s Anti-Cruelty Group, according to counton2.com. “It’s a priority for the ASPCA to eradicate dog fighting . . . and rescue these dogs living in isolation on heavy chains and give them the second chance they deserve.”