After months of investigation, Pennsylvania SPCA and Philadelphia police dismantled a large-scale dog-fighting ring Monday, seizing dogs, guns, and drugs, and arresting 17 people.
Monday morning, authorities raided two properties in the Kensington section after a late-night raid Sunday of a home in South Philadelphia.
Wendy Marano, a spokeswoman for the SPCA, said that shortly before 12:01 a.m. Monday, authorities with a search warrant burst into a home in the 2600 block of Gerritt Street while a dogfight was in progress. Fifteen people were arrested and six dogs were seized, Marano said.
Among those arrested, court records show, one man had previously pleaded guilty to animal cruelty. One is due in court this month to be sentenced for drug-dealing. Two others have court dates this month in drug-dealing cases. One had an active bench warrant for a 2008 drug-dealing case.
Marano said that when the raid began, about 15 to 20 people scattered through the house, leaving two dogs fighting unattended inside a ring in a second-floor bedroom.
Marano said information in the first raid led authorities to the other two locations.
Authorities raided a home in the 2600 block of Boudinot Street in Kensington about 7 a.m. Monday, arresting a woman, and seizing 12 dogs and a cache of drugs and guns.
"In the basement, we found 12 dogs in cages and carriers. We also found a large amount of drugs, marijuana, heroin, and cocaine, along with large sums of cash and weapons," Marano said.
About 10 a.m., authorities raided a home in the 3000 block of Potter Street, arresting one person and seizing one dog.
As SPCA officers were working outside the Potter Street house, and with dogs from both Kensington locations in two small SPCA trucks, neighbors sat on their steps quietly watching. Asked about the raid, several neighbors declined to speak to a reporter.
Police Monday night identified 14 of those arrested: Rashawn Coleman, 30; Vincent Floyd, 22; Theodore Gaines, 23; Paul Greenidge, 38; Paul Escobosa, 19; Marcquel Johnson, 27; Juan Rosa, 24; Jonathan Galarza, 26; Jerome Davis, 41; Jeffrey Harris, 32; Henry Beard, 42; Edward Gonzalez, 28; Donte Jones, 19; and Daniel Parmegiani, 33.
Coleman pleaded guilty in 2001 to animal cruelty and was sentenced to five years' probation. At the same time, he pleaded guilty to drug dealing and was sentenced to one to five years in prison.
At SPCA headquarters on Erie Avenue, workers were caring for the seized dogs, some with bloody scars from fighting, Marano said.
She said authorities also seized equipment used in dog fighting, including rings, treadmills, records, vitamins, and steroids.
Marano said the SPCA investigates about 100 complaints of animal fighting per month. She said most of the cases involve dog fighting and cock fighting.
"Our mission, besides recovering these animals and putting a stop to this, is letting people know that it's a crime not just to fight dogs, but to attend a dogfight," Marano said.
She urged anyone with information about dog fighting or other cruelty to animals to call the SPCA with anonymous tips at 866-601-7722.