BROOKSVILLE, Fla. (AP) - Two men have been arrested after authorities say they found dozens of pit bulls living in "deplorable" conditions at an apparent dog fight training facility.
Hernando County sheriff's deputies said in a news release that the investigation began Sunday when they found a distressed, severely injured dog in a cage without food or water and smelled of "decaying flesh." The dog had injuries to his face and right eye and a large open gash on his front leg above the knee.
Deputy Steven George made contact with the homeowner, James Harris. Harris told officers he was caring for the dog since last week when a friend dropped the dog off. He also told the deputy that he was aware of the medical condition of the dog, but did not seek treatment and he fed the dog scraps. He was unable to provide proof of any food or water being given to the dog.
A veterinarian later determined the dog was recently used as bait during dog fights.
Officials visited another Brooksville property, where they removed 19 dogs and two puppies this week. They say some of the animals were caged and attached to heavy chains. No food was found.
Numerous items indicative of training dogs for fighting were discovered including cattle wormer, muscle up (used to build muscle in dogs), super fuel, a bait cage and more.
All dogs were removed from the scene and taken to Hernando County Animal Services where they were immediately evaluated by a vet.
Sixty-two-year-old James Harris and 53-year-old Darrell Smith are facing animal cruelty charges. It's unclear whether they have attorneys.
The case remains under investigation. Additional charges are pending.