September 15, 2016
U.S. law enforcement officials are seeking forfeiture of six dogs seized from a South Jersey home in an interstate dogfighting investigation.
The six pit bull-type dogs were taken by authorities on June 1 after a federal search warrant was obtained for a Westville, Gloucester County home, accoridng to federal prosecutors.
That home was owned by the family of Justin Love, 36, of Glassboro, who was arrested the same day and charged with violating the Animal Welfare Act, according to a complaint filed Wednesday in Newark federal court.
Among the allegations made in the complaint:
• "The condition of a majority of the dogs, including scarring and aggression towards other dogs, was consistent with dog fighting and related training. For example, one of the female dogs, subsequently identified as “Momba,” had severe scarring and showed signs of other serious injuries consistent with her participation in dog fights. Her physical condition also indicated that she was used for breeding, which was further corroborated by intercepted phone conversations allegedly involving Love."
• "Other indications of unlawful dog fighting were found on the Westville property, including paraphernalia such as flirt poles, which are used to condition a dog and foster natural hunting instincts, and a spring pole, which is used to strengthen a dog’s neck and jaw muscles."
• "Injectable medication, syringes, sterile gel, and topical and oral antibiotics were also found. Dog fighters often attempt to treat their dogs themselves rather than seek veterinary attention, which might raise suspicion regarding the cause of injuries."
• "Five of the six dogs were found in pens located in the yard. The pens were made of metal fencing and separated by thick metal slats, and some of the dogs were secured inside the pens with chains. The sixth dog was confined in an elevated cage with a wire fence bottom.
According to the federal Animal Welfare Act, it is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison to fight dogs or to possess, train, sell, buy, deliver, receive, or transport them for that purpose.
The case is part of Operation Grand Champion, a coordinated federal effort to combat organized dog fighting. “Grand Champion” is a pharase used by dog fighters to refer to a dog with more than five victories.
The Humane Society of the United States is helping to care for the dogs, authorities said.