The ASPCA rescued nearly 50 dogs, ranging in age from 12 weeks to five years, who had been living in the windowless basement of a six-story apartment building in the Bronx. The space, which served as a makeshift dog fighting arena, was littered with crude wooden cages and had the capacity for roughly 100 spectators. Raul Sanchez, the building’s superintendant, was taken into custody and charged with animal fighting, a felony. Working closely with the NYPD Vice Enforcement Division and the Bronx District Attorney's Office, the ASPCA played a critical role in the rescue of the dogs, forensic evidence collection and on-scene documentation.
Also discovered on scene were a loaded .25-caliber handgun, U.S. currency, and other equipment associated with dog fighting—including dog treadmills, harnesses, muzzles, syringes and a shopping cart full of raw chicken parts.
The dogs, many of whom showed scars from fighting, were transported to a temporary shelter for further evaluation by our emergency response medical team. There they received care from the ASPCA’s veterinary staff and were evaluated by the ASPCA’s Anti-Cruelty Behavior Team.
For more than two months, ASPCA responders cared for and provided the dogs with extensive socialization, a healthy diet, medical care and exercise at the temporary shelter. Each dog was carefully evaluated by a team of animal behavior professionals prior to being transferred to the rescue groups.
Partners that embraced these canine survivors include St. Hubert’s Animal Welfare Center in Madison, New Jersey; Charles Henderson Animal Rescue in Brooklyn, New York; Columbia Greene Humane Society in Hudson, New York; and Animal Rescue League of New Hampshire in Bedford. Some dogs were transferred to the ASPCA’s Adoption Center in Manhattan.
Raul Sanchez, who pleaded guilty to dog fighting, was sentenced to prison in February 2013.
A judge sentenced Sanchez to one to three years for animal fighting, one year for animal cruelty and one year for criminal possession of a weapon. (Sanchez will serve these sentences concurrently.)
He’s also been slapped with a ban on keeping animals for the duration of his parole. Sanchez waived his right to appeal.
To learn more about dog fighting, please visit our section on Blood Sports.