47 Pit Bulls, Bred for Fighting, Are Rescued in the Bronx

Forty-seven pit bulls, bred for fighting, lived crammed in a basement-level apartment in the Bronx, the police said. They stayed in cages, some two to a cage, and, the police said, some of them might never have seen the sun before Thursday afternoon.

It was then that police officers and workers from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, surrounded by curious neighbors, carried the dogs, one by one, out of 1254 Sherman Avenue, near the Grand Concourse. They were to be collared, photographed and registered into evidence.

The police described the operation as a puppy mill for fighting dogs. In the apartment, said the police, officers found dog treadmills, 22 wooden cages, harnesses and muzzles, syringes, a loaded .25-caliber handgun and a shopping cart full of raw chicken parts.

Raul Sanchez, 57, of the Bronx, the human occupant of the apartment, was charged with animal fighting and cruelty. Neighbors said he was the building’s superintendent.

Howard Lawrence, senior director of the animal society’s humane law enforcement department, said of the dogs, “They appear to be in a state of shock.”

While the evacuation may have resembled a sort of “perp walk,” with each dog getting its photo taken alongside a dry-erase board listing its tracking information, the dogs looked to be anything but killers. Many had their tails between their legs. One gently licked the face of an animal society agent. Some bore the scars of training, while others looked like skittish house pets. Officials said the dogs weighed from 25 to 45 pounds.

Neighbors, who said they had seen two of Mr. Sanchez’s biggest dogs chained outside — the police called them his show dogs — seemed surprised that others were being raised below.

Raymond Caro, 37, who lives on the top floor of the building, stood on the sidewalk as the parade of dogs continued one by one.

“I’m happy that they caught him,” he said.

The puppy mill explained one thing, though, Mr. Caro added, saying of the building’s entrance, “It stank.”

Officers said that as they made their way through the basement, the smell of ammonia and feces was overpowering.

The basement also contained an area that could fit 100 spectators, they said.

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