Detectives with the Metro Nashville Police Department have arrested three people and rescued 21 dogs in connection to a major dog fighting ring.
The dogs were taken to Metro Animal Care and Control Tuesday morning. Officers rescued 11 adult dogs and 10 puppies, which all had varying degrees of injuries.
Specialized Investigations Division detectives discovered the dogs during the execution of a heroin related search warrant at a home at 656 Rowan Drive in Nashville. The dogs were discovered in chains or in cages. Detectives also discovered a treadmill believed to have been used to condition the dogs, and syringes used to inject the dogs with chemicals.
"Detectives were surprised to see a number of animals with scars and open wounds," said Don Aaron with the Metro Nashville Police Department. "It's heartbreaking when you see the wounds and scars these animals have had to endure.
Property owner John Gooch, 45, and a resident James Burgess, 30, were charged Tuesday with conspiracy to distribute heroin and remain in the Metro Jail. Gooch was also charged with 10 counts of animal fighting and 6 counts of aggravated animal cruelty. Burgess is being charged with 9 counts of animal fighting and 5 counts of aggravated animal cruelty. Gooch's girlfriend, Shawn Massey, 40, is also being charged with one count of animal fighting and one count of aggravated animal cruelty.
All the dogs checked out by a veterinarian at Metro Animal Care and Control and are recovering from their injuries.
"They are doing well," said Rebecca Morris, Spokesperson for Metro Animal Care and Control. "They are scared, as they should be. They are in a new space. We are trying to provide them with as much care as we can."
The addition of the 21 dogs put the shelter at max capacity in its dog adoption and stray animal dog holding areas; so shelter officials have scheduled an adoption event.
Getting a first look at the 10 puppies saved from an alleged dog fighting operation in Nashville. pic.twitter.com/kvgrt1cl9U
— Emily Luxen (@NC5_EmilyLuxen) March 9, 2016
“Nobody wants to see these incredible animals placed into loving homes more than our staff who have bonded with them, but the reality is that we are out of space.” said Morris.
To encourage people to adopt, MACC has decided to waive adoption fees for all pets of all ages Thursday through next Saturday.
For more information on the even or the MACC shelter visit the Facebook page.