Three Wyandanch men charged in October with abusing dogs in connection with an Islandwide dogfighting ring have pleaded guilty to felony prohibition of animal fighting charges, officials said Tuesday.
Richard Davis, 34, and Taikeem Wheeler, 27, pleaded guilty last week, according to a news release from New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman. Martin Newkirk, 49, previously pleaded to the same charge, the release said.
The trio was arrested after a yearlong investigation known as “Operation Bloodline,” which included the rescue of three dozen pit bulls — more than half of which were puppies, officials said.
Wheeler also pleaded guilty to misdemeanor prohibition of animal fighting, authorities said.
Authorities said the three men face sentencing on June 6 before Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice John B. Collins.
“Dogfighting is a barbaric, despicable, and illegal form of animal abuse that both tortures animals and endangers public safety,” Schneiderman said in the statement Tuesday.
He said that the investigation — and subsequent pleas — should send “a clear message that we will hold animal abusers accountable.”
Authorities said 14 of the abused dogs were rescued from Davis’ home, 20 were rescued from Newkirk’s home, and two were rescued from the home of Wheeler.
Most of the rescued dogs have been adopted, he said.
Authorities said the three men ran kennels out of their homes and were breeding dogs descended from “well-known” fighting bloodlines — in this case, bloodlines of successful known pit-bull fighters named RedBoy, Jeep and Beast.
The dogs were all found “virtually imprisoned in deplorable conditions, often tethered to heavy chains and segregated from one another, with no visible food or drinkable water, and with injuries consistent with earlier fights,” the attorney general’s office said.
Schneiderman in October called conditions for the dogs a “truly gruesome discovery.”
Additionally, authorities seized dogfighting paraphernalia, performance-enhancing dietary supplements, chains, double-thick collars, weighted dog vests and treadmills, the statement said.
Authorities said dogs can sell for $1,600 or more and that $20,000 to $30,000 can be bet on a single fight or match.
“This case illustrated the continuing prevalence of dogfighting in America, causing immense suffering for hundreds of thousands of dogs around the country,” ASPCA president and CEO Matt Bershadker said in a statement about the pleas on Tuesday.
Three Wyandanch men have been arrested and charged with running illegal dog breeding and training facilities. The facilities, run under the guise of being dog kennels, were actually part of a sophisticated dogfighting network, state Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said at a news conference outside the Babylon Town animal shelter in West Babylon on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017.LI crime statsSearch crime statistics in Nassau and Suffolk counties from 2006 to 2016. 5 ways to send story tips to Newsday Do you have information that might lead Newsday to an important story, or an investigation? A document that starts us on the trail? Here are five ways for you to send our journalists tips, documents and data with a range of security options.