More dogs rescued from suspected dog fighting operation - CBS46 News

More dogs rescued from suspected dog fighting operation

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Source: WGCL Source: WGCL
Devecio Rowland (Source: Polk County Police Department) Devecio Rowland (Source: Polk County Police Department)

Agencies are scrambling to find shelter for more dogs discovered in what Polk County Police Chief Kenneth Dodd calls one of the worst animal cruelty cases he's ever seen.

“It’s heartbreaking,” he said.

The Polk County Animal Control facility is overwhelmed as it tries to find space for 107 dogs. Shelters in nearby Paulding and Douglas counties are housing some of the rescued dogs. However, other shelters in metro Atlanta are having trouble making space because of all the animals they’re now housing in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in Texas.

Acting on a tip, officers first discovered 72 dogs chained to trees and car axles in the woods behind a home in the small community of Aragon. Most of the dogs seemed to be in decent health, though some appeared to be malnourished.

On Monday, the police department posted a live video on Facebook as Chief Dodd walked through the woods showing the various dogs discovered on the property, located on Cashtown Road. 

On Tuesday, CBS46 learned that 35 more dogs were found on a property on Puckett Road in nearby Cedartown.

Police arrested 32 year-old Devecio Rowland in connection to the case, initially charging him with 70 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty. But CBS46 News learned on Wednesday that he’s about to face more serious charges of criminal attempt to commit felony dog fighting.

“He will now be facing 107 counts of that,” said District Attorney Jack Browning of the Tallapoosa Judicial Circuit. “Those are felonies.”

Dodd said investigators questioned Rowland’s mother and stepfather who live on the Cedartown property. He said they are cooperating and do not currently face charges.

Dodd said he suspects some of the dogs found on the Cedartown property were the “fighting” dogs, while the dogs found on the Aragon property were being exploited for other purposes.

"They appear to be dogs that maybe were being used for breeding dogs or God forbid, maybe they're bait dogs for a fighting ring," said Dodd. "We don't really know. We have interviewed the guy we arrested, and he hasn't really shed any light on that for us. We hope to just find these babies a home, somebody that wants to love them and take care of them." 

Since the original Facebook post went viral, people from all over the southeast have been offering to help, some sending loads of dog food and others wanting to adopt them.

Because of what the dogs have been through, animal control agents are only allowed to release them to agencies certified in rehabilitating abused dogs. Therefore, it could be weeks before any of the dogs are adoptable.

The department has posted several Facebook live videos, offering updates on the dogs. Officers are also posting messages about how the public can help. Click here to access the Polk County Police Department's page.

Watch Chief Dodd's initial Facebook video as he walks through the wooded area where the dogs were found

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