An NYPD-led crackdown on dogfighting spurred raids in Uniondale and Manhattan early Thursday that ended with two people in custody, at least 28 dogs rescued, and the seizure of drugs and weapons, officials said.
During predawn raids at a home on Cooper Court in Uniondale and a residence in Washington Heights in Manhattan, investigators arrested one person at each location and found the dogs, guns and drugs, NYPD officials said.
Investigators also found weights and treadmills they believe were used to exercise the dogs in preparation for fights, a law enforcement source said.
Photos and video from the site of the Uniondale raid showed what appeared to be pit bull-like terriers being led from the home.
In a tweet, NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea credited department investigators from a pair of specialty units and the Manhattan-based American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals for their roles in the raids.
“Tremendous work by the NYPD’s Animal Cruelty Investigation Squad & the Grand Larceny Division — with our partners in the ASPCA — in rescuing 28 dogs as part of a large-scale, ongoing animal cruelty investigation," Shea tweeted. "Impressive and important work. Well done!”
The Nassau County Police Department took part in the Uniondale raid, NYPD officials said. Officials with the NCPD declined to comment.
In a statement, the ASPCA said it "is assisting in the removal, forensic evidence collection, medical care and sheltering of 28 dogs seized from a multi-scene investigation earlier today."
The investigation is continuing, the ASPCA said, directing any further questions to the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, which did not comment on the raids.
The names, ages and charges facing the two people taken into custody, as well as the types and amounts of guns and drugs recovered, were not released.
Late Thursday afternoon, windows of the home in Uniondale were boarded up and a sign posted in front of the residence with the Town of Hempstead insignia read in all capital letters: "Warning structure unfit for human occupancy."
Neighbors said they were stunned when authorities converged on the home just before dawn Thursday.
Veronica Morocho, who has lived on the block for about 30 years, said she never saw more than two dogs that looked like pit bulls at the home. Morocho said she had seen the home's residents walking the dogs on leashes but never saw anything suspicious.
She said law enforcement officers — some from the NYPD and others from the Nassau County Police Department — descended on the neighborhood along with people wearing clothing with the ASPCA logo.
“If anything happened, she said, "it might have happened recently and not in the day time. I don’t know what they did at night.”
The family that lives in the Cooper Court home had been there for decades, Morocho said.
“Dogs are innocent," she said. "We don’t want any animals tortured next to us — if that’s what was happening,” Morocho said.
A woman who lives on the street said the neighborhood is quiet and most people keep to themselves.
"We tend to mind our own business around here. That’s how we like it.” the woman said, declining to give her name. “We never suspected. I think I’m hurt more than anything else, that someone would hurt animals.”
With Bart Jones