Rescuers: Dogs suffered ‘severe injuries’ at alleged dogfighting operation in Gaston Co.
GASTON COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - Dogs were rescued from an alleged dogfighting operation in Gaston County Wednesday, according to the Humane Society of the United States.
Gaston County Police confirmed the rescue, taking place on Queens Road in Gastonia, was the result of an investigation lasting several months. They said a man believed to be the organizer of a dogfighting ring was taken into custody.
The Humane Society posted about the rescue Wednesday, saying rescuers arrived to find dogs living outdoors with heavy chains around their necks.
“Many appear to have suffered severe injuries and have scars across their faces and legs as a constant reminder of the pain they have endured,” the Humane Society posted.
The man arrested, identified as 49-year-old Rico Pagan, is charged with three felony counts of dogfighting and 12 counts of animal cruelty.
Police say two dogs were seized from the property the week before and that “several more” were seized during Wednesday’s search warrant execution.
“It is gut-wrenching to imagine the violence and pain these dogs have been forced to endure,” said Gail Thomssen, North Carolina director for the Humane Society of the United States. “We are thankful to the Gaston County Police Department for answering the call to get these dogs desperately-needed help. Thanks to everyone involved, today is the last day that these dogs will have to live like this.”
Pagan is currently being held in the Gaston County Jail on a $125,000 bond and is awaiting his first appearance in court.
Anyone with further information is asked to contact Detective J. P. Brienza at 704-866-3320 or Crimestoppers at 704-861-8000. Information leading to the identification, arrest and/or prosecution of additional suspects involved in the case can result in a reward of up to $1,000.
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