Nashville police have removed at least 38 dogs from two homes as part of an ongoing investigation into one of the biggest dog-fighting busts in the city's history.
The dogs, most of them pit bulls ranging from puppies to full-grown adults, were chained to trees in a wide expanse behind two Pewitt Road homes. Some of them were emaciated, scarred or marked with gaping, bloody wounds.
They were freed by officers with Metro police's specialized investigations unit and Metro Animal Care and Control staffers. Officers carried some of the shell-shocked animals out in their arms.
Tails wagged while the dogs were examined by a veterinarian.
"They appeared to be starved for human contact," Metro police spokesman Don Aaron as dogs scampered behind him on pink leashes. "They were very friendly, they were jumping up, they were happy to see some human attention."
Animal control is caring for the dogs, who are being housed at an off-site location owned by the city. They will not be available for adoption until after they are released by the court.
Aaron said police uncovered evidence of the dog-fighting operation while they were investigating a massive heroin and cocaine trafficking organization on April 12. One of the suspects in the dog-fighting raid, Michael A. Davis, 34, who lives in one of the Pewitt Road homes, was arrested in the drug case.
He remains in jail on a felony cocaine charge.
During a search of Davis' home, investigators looking for evidence of cocaine trafficking found the chained dogs, spent syringes that police suspect were used to inject the dogs with steroids, treadmills, a breeding stand and an object hanging from a tree that could have been used to build the dogs' leg and jaw muscles.
Further searching today at Davis' home and at his neighbor James Jones' home uncovered the dogs' exercise logs, a jumper cable and $234,950 in cash that had been shrink wrapped and buried outside. Jones, 35, said he didn't know anything about the cash, which police said was on his property.
Investigators were working with the district attorney Tuesday to determine who would face charges and what those charges might be.
Representatives for the Humane Society of the United States and the Davidson County District Attorney's Office were on the scene.
Metro Animal Care and Control is asking for donations to continue to care for the dogs allegedly involved in dog fighting. Fore information on the supplies they need, visit their Facebook page.