Richland County (WLTX) - Richland County deputies and the Humane Society say they've found dogs, which they believe, were used in dog fighting, and have arrested three people in connection with the situation.
Deputies arrested Robert Graves, Garry Gadson, and Kenneth Gadson. The Gadsons are brothers, and Graves is a brother-in-law to the Gadsons.
Eight dogs have been seized. Before February 4th, Richland County deputies found four dead dogs at the end of a street.
On February 4th, investigators from the Humane Society went to 123 Cora Drive in Richland County and found two dogs fighting.
"I love animals! I have 3 dogs, 3 cats, 3 rabbits, 2 horses and a pony," says Investigator Holly Wagner.
One Richland County Deputy says no human would want the treatment she saw at a home on Cora Drive.
"Most of these dogs were on heavy chains and standing in ther own feces and they were very thin," adds Wagner.
The deputy's emotions were placed aside while she and a team of detectives focused on every inch of the crime scene.
"I made sure I did everything right to make sure I can build this case," says Wagner.
In an afternoon press conference Sheriff Leon Lott says Robert Graves, Garry Gadson and Kenneth Gadson were amateurs in training.
"We believe they were going on the internet where it shows you how to train and fight dogs. Everybody we can find that assisted with this, were gonna put in jail," Lott says.
It's a mild sentence Wagner says, compared to the turmoil innocent animals faced.
"They're living creatures and they didn't ask for this to happen to them," says Wagner.
Kelly Graham with the Humane Society said, "Most of them pit bulls were tethered in the yards and in terrible conditions. They were living in barrels and had tractor trailer chains around their necks which is a practice of dog fighters."
Investigators took those dogs into protective custody. They returned February 6th with a search warrant and found one other dog.
On February 8th, animal humane investigators went to 135 Chadwell Road in Richland County and seized four more dogs. Wednesday, they picked up another dog at a third location.
Deputies seized a total of 14 dogs, and they are each pit bulls. Investigators say the dogs are loving, not vicious animals.
There are nine to 11 other dogs they are currently looking for that might have been at the three locations.
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said the three men were working to start a dog fighting operation that was still in the beginning phases. Lott said the men had begun training, fighting and killing dogs at the home.
"For dog fighters their biggest assets are their dogs," explained Graham, "It's taking the dogs that really hurts the dog fighters and that's why they're hiding their animals."
Lott said his deputies went after the operation because of the crime that usually surrounds hurting the dogs.
"The animals don't ask to be a part of this," Lott said.
He says marijuana, stolen weapons, and stolen goods are usually connected to dog fighting operations.
Lott said the men used electrical cords to hang dogs, and other dogs were taught to attack the helpless animal.