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13 arrested in Milwaukee dogfighting probe

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) — A series of early morning raids in Milwaukee on Thursday, April 3rd resulted in 13 arrests and the recovery of nearly two dozen dogs involved in an illegal dogfighting operation.

Federal, county and local law enforcement agencies were joined by the ASPCA during a news conference in which they announced the raid was the result of a multi-year investigation.

"I saw like five or six of them out here, over there, taking pictures of the house across the street there and I don't know what was going on but they had the dogs and the animals and rescue animal rescue out here," said Geneva Davis.

All that activity woke Davis up early Thursday morning. Little did she know, she was witnessing authorities bust an alleged dogfighting operation.

"I saw one dog come out that they brought out. What kind of dog was it do you know? Like a pit maybe," said Davis.

All told, investigators hit several locations, rounding up 22 live dogs and taking 13 people into custody.

"The principal focus of the charges is the sale the purchase the possession the training of various pit bulls on various states recently and in the distant past," said James Santelle, U.S. Attorney. "That includes the breeding of pit bulls for dogfighting competitions where spectators and participants place bets on the outcome of those competitions."

One of the accused is 24-year-old Thomas Zollicoffer. According to a criminal complaint, Zollicoffer is accused of hosting dogfighting in the basement of a Milwaukee home during the summer of 2011.

Dogs that didn't dominate didn't last. One criminal complaint says some were disposed of "by hanging them from...basement beams" until they died from strangulation.

Authorities found one dog dead when they arrived on scene. The others have been turned over to the Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Commission (MADACC) for care.

"Obviously if they're fighting dogs, they likely will need medical care. A lot of times they have a lot of scars and bites and things like that that need to be taken care of," said Carianne Yerkes of the Milwaukee Police Department.

FOX6 News is told dogfighting operations are all too common -- both in Wisconsin and across the country. Even so, authorities say this is a significant victory.

"Animal abuse is not just about the animal. It branches off into family abuse, it branches off into violent crime," said Yerkes. "And the Milwaukee Police Department is committed to reducing violence in this city and today with these indictments and arrests and search warrants we have accomplished that."

Authorities are still searching for one individual who they believe was involved in this dogfighting operation. But again, we're told they currently have 13 people in custody.

MADACC will not comment on the condition of the animals or if they will be adopted out.

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  • Hooptie Pete

    They need to ban pit bulls in the city of milwaukee for safety and well being of the dogs and not the animals holding the other end of the leash.

    • chi_esquire

      What an idiotic thing to say. Why don’t we ban the CRIMINALS that use these dogs for entertaining the scum of the earth. Anyone that participates in watching, profiting or blantantly turns a blind eye to something like this should be banned from living amongst civilized society. Your ignorance is overwhelming.

    • DB

      THAT is a hateful IGNORANT statement! My pit bull is a loving caring 11year old that plays very well with other dogs and cats, always has! To tell me I have to get rid of her because lawmakers won’t properly punish those who abuse these very loving animals is disgraceful!
      My dog has not so much as ever snarled or bared her teeth as long as she has been alive! SHAME ON YOU!

    • MIKE


  • Janice

    Very sad to hear this and how these dogs suffered Thankfully they have been rescused. I hope that all that were involved get the maximum sentence which should be life without parole. These individuals are a danger to animals and society and need to have justice served.

  • Ruby Soho

    Hootie pete…you’re an idiot, and that is just a dumb response. Pit bulls are amazing dogs. They are the most loyal, loving, and affectionate dogs I have ever known. Them being raised in horrid, abusive conditions isn’t there fault, so we shouldn’t blame them for being the problem.

  • EdwardK

    I wonder how many animlas suffered, were tortured and dies over the “several years” of investigations. So sad. POS people like this do not belong in society. They are animals themselves. Takes a really big man to hurt an animal.

  • Hooptie Pete

    Pitbulls are not sweet animals. Labs are sweet animals, Pitbulls are unpredictable monsters and should be banned. When is the last time a golden retriever mulled a little kid? Your the idiot, I am the realistic one.

    • DB

      You have never owned on so YOU are the clueless one! Mine would do nothing more than lick your face and give you hugs and kisses, then she would PLAY with your dog in a friendly way. She is a very social animal like ALL pit bulls are unless the are TRAINED to be different. Vick’s dogs, once rescued and rehabilitated, went on to live very good and peaceful lives with loving caring people. You are immensely ignorant and show it more and more with each post.

    • ADifferentOpinion

      My pit is the most living dog I’ve ever had the joy of calling my best friend.
      I have a huge scar on my thigh from walking past a black lab. It was a beast of a dog. You wouldn’t know just by looking at it at first. It was quite easy to tell afterwards, with the bloody face and all. It took a rather large chunk out of my leg and was just chewing on me until the owner yelled something in German. The he began to beat his dog and I was rushed off for surgery. You are the problem. Your ignorance is of a troll nature. People are the problem, not the breed of the dog. Do I think all black labs are evil dog’s and should be banned… No, I have a brain and also use it. While I’m positive you have a brain, because you can read and type. You may not be getting enough oxygen, because your reasoning is moronic and narrow minded. Do yourself a favor and step away from the keyboard to get some fresh air. Your box is suffocating your thought process. Very sad.

  • DB

    Those who hung these animals from the rafters to die should themselves be hung from the rafters.
    There should be a mandatory 5 years in prison, no early release or parole for each fighting offense and at least 10 years for each dog killed. THIS would make fighting these very loving animals unprofitable to the cretins that continue to misuse the breed. Pit bulls aren’t the problem, people who train them to do these things are.

  • karynnbriles

    Hooptie Pete. Anyone can train a dog to do the things that pits are trained to do. they could easily take your dog and train it to be a “monster”. its not fair to put a blanket statement on one type of dog. this could happen to any type of dog. also rotwillers and germans are also used for dog fighting. they tried to ban pits but it got them no where. they would just start using a different kind of breed. so please stop being negative on a subject you clearly don’t have knowledge of.

  • cheryle

    I wish they had the death penalty for these useless, wasted space of humanity. They will never contribute anything positive or productive to society, so just get rid of them. Consider it preventative measures.

  • Miss Young

    Tell me why we never see the faces of the arrested people? Post them up on a billboard for everyone to see! Don’t hide them. They need to be exposed, so when they are walking into jail…animal lovers can pounce on them like a hungry tiger. Hmm, maybe I’ll purchase a billboard just so I can post the pictures myself.

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