A man was arrested at his home in northwestern Georgia for allegedly breeding more than 100 pit bulls and training them for dog fighting, authorities said. Vincent Lemark Burrell, 55, faces charges for animal cruelty and dog fighting, according to the Paulding County Sheriff's Office.
Dog fighting, where animals are bred and conditioned to engage in physical fights for human spectators' entertainment, is a felony in every U.S. state and under federal law. Attending and watching a dog fight is also illegal. In most states, including Georgia, possessing a canine animal for the purpose of dogfighting is a felony offense on its own.
Police say they took Burrell into custody on Nov. 8 after an investigation suggested he was involved in "a massive dog fighting operation," according to the sheriff's office. When they arrived at his home in Dallas, about an hour west of Atlanta, deputies found 106 dogs — mostly pit bulls, according to the sheriff's office — shackled "to various things" in the backyard using heavy logging chains and collars.
"Dogs were tied to trees, tied to metal stobs in the ground, and were kept without being properly hydrated and fed," the sheriff's office said in a news release. "Many of these dogs were basically left in the elements with little to no shelter for days on end. Furthermore, these dogs were not being seen on a regular basis or vaccinated by a veterinarian."
Deputies also discovered some dogs in the basement of Burrell's home, "where the presence (along with odor) of urine and feces was so strong, authorities had to wear protective equipment just to be able safely enter the home," according to the sheriff's office. All 106 dogs found on the property were placed in rescue facilities.
Burrell is currently being held without bond in the Paulding County Jail, according to the sheriff's office, which said it expects to charge Burrell with more than 100 additional counts as their investigation continues.
"I am proud of the teamwork that has been exhibited in this case and I am thankful that these dogs are safe now," said Paulding County Sheriff Gary Gulledge in a statement. "The dark and sinister world of dog fighting is a despicable culture that has no place in our world."