Sixteen bloodied and injured dogs were seized Monday from a Ventura County home where police said canines were apparently being bred and trained to fight.
Animal rescue officers made the discovery while responding to a call of dogs fighting about 9 a.m. at a home in the 500 block of N. 14th Street in Santa Paula (map).
When officers arrived, they found pit bulls, English bulldogs and Boston terriers loose and in cages, in varying stages of healing.
Eleven dogs and puppies required medical care, including two that underwent surgery for life-threatening injuries, according to the Santa Paula Animal Rescue Center’s Facebook page. Rescue workers said some of the dogs had several teeth ripped out, deep bite wounds and jaw injuries.
Police said they found evidence suggesting a dog-fighting operation at the home, including an agitator stick, and cropped ears and clipped tails on the dogs.
The owner told NBC4 that he was "trying to do something nice" by rescuing the dogs off the streets, not teaching them to fight.
"I want them to be around kids and family," the owner said.
Police said the investigation was ongoing.
The city of Santa Paula allows three dogs per household. The owner will be financially responsible for the dogs' housing and medical expenses. If he is unable to pay, the city and shelter will be forced to foot the bill.
The Santa Paula Animal Rescue Center is collecting donations for the injured dogs at their facility at 705 E. Santa Barbara St. or on their website at sparcsaveslives.org.