A Pierce County man suspected of operating a dog-fighting ring was arrested Wednesday, and 49 pit bulls were seized from his property.
A tip led animal-control officers to the Tacoma property after a caller expressed concern about dogs that appeared to be starving and possibly being used for breeding.
When officers asked to see some of the dogs in the 9000 block of Portland Avenue East, the owner showed them six dogs, all allegedly malnourished, injured, scarred and afraid of their owner.
Three of the dogs appeared to have given birth within the last six months, sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said.
A search of the property turned up dozens of dogs kept in a garage, locked in crates and lying in their own urine and feces.
The garage had no lighting or ventilation.
Animal-control officers rescued 49 dogs, including several puppies.
Eleven dogs required medical treatment and were taken to a local veterinarian. The others were taken to the Tacoma-Pierce County Humane Society.
The 40-year-old owner was booked into Pierce County Jail on suspicion of first-degree animal cruelty and animal fighting.
Prosecutors are reviewing possible charges.
Authorities said they found paraphernalia associated with dog fighting and breeding on the property, including medications, syringes, first-aid supplies and training tools.
“Dog fighting is a brutal blood sport that is almost always operated solely for the purpose of conducting illegal gambling,” Washington State Gambling Commission Director Dave Trujillo said in a statement. “Thanks to a tip from an alert citizen, we’re able to shut down this criminal operation and rescue dozens of dogs.”