Authorities break up huge dog fighting ring in Georgia

VIDEO - Police in Georgia say they have broken up a huge dog fighting operation. Officials raided a wooded area in the town of box springs, in west-central Georgia...

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.

Twenty-nine dogs chained to trees — some with scars. Authorities near Columbus, Georgia say they have busted a significant dog fighting ring.

One of the pieces of evidence found by police in Talbot County was a heavy lumber chain, that they said was used to tie the dogs to trees. Investigators said this not only restricted the movements of the dogs, but also forced them to use their muscles, putting them in fighting shape.

The 29 pit bulls got kid-glove treatment from workers at the temporary shelter where authorities had taken them for evaluation and treatment. This was in stark contrast to the conditions the dogs were living in just a few hours earlier.

“The way they were kept, maintained, was consistent with what we’ve seen with other dogfighting cases,” said private investigator Chuck Simmons.

Four months ago, Simmons said his agency was tipped off on a dog fighting case in rural Talbot County, Ga. Investigators found dogs chained to trees, living in barrels — scarred and injured, he says, from organized fighting.

“Some of them were emaciated, some of them were scarred,” said Simmons. “Some of them had old scarring that was not readily evident, but the vets identified some of the old scarring.”

Talbot County Sheriff’s Maj. Jeff Sivell believes the fights took place weekly.

Deputies and workers from animal welfare agencies raided the rural property just after daybreak on Wednesday, confiscating the dogs. They arrested the property owner, Antonio Mons, 31. For each of the animals, Mons faces one count of animal cruelty.

“We don’t have evidence to show that this is an actual ring,” said Miguel Azi-Hassan of the Atlanta Humane Society. “But this is definitely where the animals originate from when they are taken to dog fights.”

Investigators in Talbot County say that an Atlanta private investigation agency, Norrell And Associates, actually launched the investigation as part of a pro-bono dogfighting investigation around the state. They are the agency that officials are crediting with finding and presenting much of the evidence to investigators.

Suspect Antonio Mons was taken to the Talbot County Jail. Officials said their investigation was continuing, and that they suspect that Mons had accomplices.

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