CHEATHAM COUNTY, Tenn. – Four men have been charged in a dog fighting operation that was discovered in Cheatham County in November.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Cheatham County Sheriff's Office arrested 31-year-old James Callis, 50-year-old Gary Phelps, 29-year-old Arsenio Williams, and 54-year-old Avery Bell after they were indicted by the Cheatham County grand jury on Monday.
The four men were each charged with 60 counts of cruelty to animals, one count of animal fighting, and one count of aggravated cruelty to animals. Bell was also charged with setting fire to personal property and burning without a permit.
The TBI said Bell and Phelps are cousins, and all four subjects are friends.
The dogfighting operation was discovered when a firefighters responded to a brush fire at a Bell's home on Buckeye Road on November 22, 2012. Approximately 60 dogs were found chained in the woods. Many of the dogs were emaciated and showed signs that they had been involved in fighting.
The dogs, mainly pit bulls, were removed from the property by Cheatham County Animal Control and the Animal Rescue Corps. They were taken to a warehouse in Lebanon where volunteers worked to nurse them back to health before they were adopted.
A treadmill, fighting pen, a spring pole used to strengthen dogs' jaws, and a weighted sled were found on the property during the execution of a search warrant.
All four men were booked into the Cheatham County Jail on $50,000 bond each.