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Tuesday, Mar 16, 2010County: Alameda
Charges: Felony CTA
Alleged: Calvin Brown
Case Updates: 1 update(s) available
23 badly scarred pit bulls were taken from an East Oakland home on the 8400 block of Dowling Street Tuesday afternoon after authorities said they uncovered a space where they believe the dogs were being trained to fight.
Officials described the bust as one of the largest Oakland animal seizures in years.
The incident started Tuesday when the Oakland Fire Department got a complaint about possible hazardous materials at the home.
Officials investigated and noticed four dogs chained up on the property. Animal control officers were notified and upon their arrival uncovered the possible dog fighting facility.
Oakland Animal Control Officer Elena Hocking said she initially arrived on the scene with two trucks, but quickly realized that every department vehicle would be needed to remove the more than 20 pit bulls either chained up or packed inside a small shed.
Animal services video shows crates containing at least one dog each stacked three high. Officials said none of the animals were licensed. Many were covered in their own feces and urine.
All of the dogs except for the puppies were wearing big thick collars, an indication that the animals were being trained for dog fighting, according to authorities.
"They use the thicker collars to control them with and that they use when they chain them up," explained Officer Hocking.
Officers showed KTVU several dogs bearing what they called “fighting scars" on their heads and legs.
Another dog was found dripping in motor oil, a practice that authorities said was a common street treatment for mange.
"We're going to have to wash her with some sort of degreasing shampoo," said Hocking about the plans for that particular dog.
Officer Hocking said the owner treated injured animals himself and even closed a wound on the head of one dog using staples.
"He's providing medical attention without having a medical license; without having the skills to do it,” said Sgt. David Cronin, the acting Director for Oakland Animal Services.
Owner Calvin Brown said he loves his dogs. He admitted he had too many, but denied he was involved with any illegal dog fighting
"I'm not a dog fighter. I'm a dog lover,” said Brown. “A dog breeder. Fighting? No."
But officials said this wasn't their first encounter with Brown, who has been accused of mistreating animals and dog fighting before.
This time though, authorities said they think they can make the charges stick.
Unfortunately for the allegedly abused animals, their fate seems inevitable.
"They are under-socialized,” said Sgt. Cronin. “They appear to be dog aggressive, which makes it difficult to put them back out in the community. The likelihood is, frankly, that we will end up having to euthanize all of these dogs."
All 23 dogs will be examined by veterinarians at the Oakland Animal Shelter on Wednesday. Depending on their findings, Brown could be facing a host of charges including several felonies.
Calvin Brown was among those (including three-time convicted dog-fighter Eduardo Ribaya) arrested in 1996, when officers raided a 10-acre ranch near the Altamont Pass. 39 abused pit bulls living in squalid conditions were seized, along with 5 others from an Oakland yard. Most of the dogs had to be euthanized due to their physical conditions and/or temperaments.
Ribaya and Brown pleaded nolo contendere to felony animal cruelty charges on February 4, 1997. In that case, (Alameda County Superior Court Case H22943) Brown was sentenced to three years' probation and a $200.00 restitution fine.
|The owner of the nearly two dozen allegedly abused pit bulls seized in Oakland claimed he’s a dog breeder and has done nothing wrong, but KTVU learned Wednesday the suspect has been previously convicted for organized dog fighting.|
Veterinarians spent much of the day evaluating almost two dozen pit bulls that had been seized the day before from owner Calvin Brown’s home in East Oakland.
Authorities said the dog's owner likely will face animal cruelty charges.
When KTVU spoke with Brown Wednesday after he met with officials, he acknowledged the 1996 conviction, but insisted he was no longer involved in dog fighting.
Wednesday night KTVU spoke with the lead investigator in that case. She was not buying Brown's story.
Working on a tip, in 1996 authorities busted a massive dog-fighting ring in the hills outside Livermore near the Altamont Raceway.
It involved top organizers of the illegal activity and even hosted the so-called West Coast Regional Championships.
The former deputy director of San Francisco Animal Care and Control who went undercover to bring down the operation told KTVU it was Calvin Brown's job to care for the 39 fighting pit bulls.
She said the treadmill and medical equipment authorities said they found yesterday behind Brown's home in East Oakland -- as well as the scars, sutures and thick collars found on many of Brown's dogs -- all point to his continued involvement in the illegal activity.
Wednesday, a vet at Oakland Animal Services got a closer look at the 23 dogs seized -- including a 5-year-old male named spike.
"On his head you could almost see where the dog clamped down," said Oakland Animal Control officer Elena Hocking. "His wounds are all consistent with dogs that have been in fights."
There were staples in the dog's head and two more in his arm. Officials also discovered that many of the dogs are in worse shape than feared.
"This dog has great difficulty walking and, when she does, its more of a hobble,” explained Hocking. ”She's very fearful of anything. She tries to stay in a corner where she feels secure."
When interviewed by KTVU Wednesday, Brown again insisted he's simply a dog breeder and not doing anything illegal.
But as officials cleaned a motor-oil soaked one-year-old pit bull, they question brown's motivation and past connections.
"The concern is that he breeds the dogs and then gives them or sells them to whomever," said acting Oakland Animal Services Director Sgt. David Cronin.
Officials were still making their case and believe charges are imminent.
Meanwhile efforts were underway to find homes for the pit bulls healthy enough to be adopted through Bay Area pit bull rescue organization BADRAP.
|Source: KTVU.com - Mar 18, 2010|
Update posted on Mar 18, 2010 - 11:04AM
- KTVU.com - Mar 17, 2010
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