KALAMAZOO TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) - Forty-six dogs were removed from two homes in Kalamazoo County and two men were arrested in connection with a dog-fighting case.
The Kalamazoo County Animal Services and Enforcement director told 24 Hour News 8 the men were taken into custody on warrants for possession of dogs for fighting and breeding for fighting.
Kelvin Thomas was arrested Aug. 3. He was also taken into custody in 1992 for attending a dog fight in Kalamazoo County. He served a year in jail for the earlier offense.
Leonard Turner was arrested Monday at his home at 321 Darling St. in Kalamazoo Township.
Turner was arraigned Tuesday on four charges: possession of fighting animals, use of a building for fighting animals, breeding fighting animals and possession of equipment for fighting animals.
Both Thomas and Turner could face prison time if convicted.
"I'm hoping like hell it ain't true, because like I said, he'll have a batch of puppies every once in a while and I figured he was just making some extra money," said neighbor Ken Stone.
The Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Department, Michigan State Police and Humane Society of the United States assisted in the investigation.
---- Photos: Dog-fighting bust in Kzoo County ----
A lot of evidence was gathered and 14 of the animals were removed Monday morning from Turner's home.
The other 34 dogs were removed Aug. 3 from a home on KL Avenue between Seventh Street and Ninth Street in Oshtemo Township.
"There was actually large amounts of blood to even be able to see visually, and then when we sprayed it with blue star. We were able to see that there were massive amounts of blood," said Chris Schindler of the Humane Society of the United States.
---- Video from The Humane Society of the United States ----
Both suspects have lived at these locations for a long time, the Animal Services director said.
Authorities suspected the suspects of breeding and raising the dogs, and using the animals to fight each other, but never had enough evidence to execute a search warrant.
The suspects would loan out the dogs to each other for breeding, but they were competitors.
Authorities received a call about five months ago from someone who was hunting on property near the KL Avenue house and stumbled upon a bunch of dogs.
Michigan State Police and animal control officials went to the residence and noticed 30 to 40 dogs on the property. Authorities then contacted the humane society and coordinated with other county officials to move the dogs.
The humane society started collecting more evidence online and rented a building in Portage where 100 kennels were set up.
PetSmart donated such items as food and vaccinations, and volunteers came from Oregon, Tennessee and Ohio.
Currently, penalties for violating Michigan's animal fighting law can include up to four years in prison, and up to $50,000 in fines and community services.
The Michigan House of Representatives is considering a package of bills that would significantly strengthen penalties to include allowing forfeiture of property and declaring animal fighting property a nuisance.
"There's not a state where somebody is not engaged in this activity, but now law enforcement nationally is taking steps to be able to eradicate this behavior," said Schindler.
24 Hour News 8's Marlee Ginter and Steve Kelso contributed to this report.
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