According to authorities, they treated their children like dogs and their dogs like … well, in a way that no living creature should ever be treated. That is the word from ABC Philadelphia affiliate WPVI concerning a Chester County, Pa., couple who were arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of running an especially cruel dogfighting ring.
The article quotes Chester County D.A. Thomas Hogan as saying of the operation, which involved unspeakable torture and neglect:
From a prosecutor’s standpoint this is troubling. From the standpoint of a human, from the standpoint of a man who loves dogs, this is disgusting.”
The reference is to the conditions police found when they raided the house in West Brandywine. In the basement was a blood-spattered dogfighting arena, and around it were tools of torture were used on dogs that failed to perform. Among these were cattle prods, used to electrocute some of the dogs, while others were hanged and still others shot. One was left on the side of the road and burned to death in his cage.
Police also reports finding five malnourished children in the house ages 3 to 15. All had been living in squalid conditions. The children have entrusted termporarily to the care of relatives.
The two suspects and parents of the children, Shane Santiago and Laura Acampora, face multiple counts of child endangerment and cruelty to animals.
Santiago admitted that he had been involved in dog fighting since he was 12. He also confessed to having hanged or electrocuted at least ten dogs. Santiago also maintained a dogfighting website, which could lead to the apprehension of other suspects both in Pennsylvania and out of state.
According to the police report, the couple kept up to 16 dogs at a time in kennels in the back yard of the house. The Chester County SPCA was able to rescue six of them, many of them wearing the unmistakable scars of battle.
“We’re continuing to take care of their injuries, give them proper vet care and socialize them,” said Rebecca Turnbull of the SPCA. “And then we’ll be able to evaluate their temperament and see what the future holds for them.”
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