50 Pit Bulls Rescued in Dogfighting Raid

Animals recovering after breeding operation shut down
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 22, 2014 11:22 PM CDT
Updated Oct 23, 2014 2:00 AM CDT
50 Pit Bulls Rescued in Dog Fighting Raid
Sevier County Sheriff's deputies escort Kimberly Heatherly, 45, and Jacob Heatherly, 23, to a patrol car after authorities removed dozens of pit bulls from a breeding operation.   (AP Photo/The Mountain Press, Curt Habraken)

"When you see a piece of property that has 42 adult dogs chained up with tow chains using a tire axle to secure the chains in the ground ... they're probably not raising pets," a deputy told the Mountain Press after a raid that rescued dozens of pit bulls from a suspected dogfighting operation. Many of the 50 dogs rescued from the isolated property in Tennessee's Sevier County were in poor condition, and some had scars consistent with dogfighting, although suspect Mark Heatherly told investigators he bred dogs but didn't train or fight them. The 47-year-old was arrested along with his wife, Kimberly, and their 23-year-old son, Jacob. All three were charged with conspiracy to commit dogfighting.

The Humane Society of the United States, which assisted local police in their investigation, says the dogs are now in good hands and receiving medical attention. None of them became aggressive during the raid, and the Humane Society says that when it gets custody of the animals, they will be placed in shelters nationwide, where adoption shouldn't be a problem. "We've certainly seen many of these dogs go on to be family pets, living with other dogs, living with children, and certainly human aggression is not something we see from dogs in these cases," the organization's chief of animal fighting investigations tells WBIR. (Read more dog fighting stories.)

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