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Strange Drug Bust Reveals 18 Brutalized Pit Bulls on the Brink of Death

Strange Drug Bust Reveals 18 Brutalized Pit Bulls on the Brink of Death

When law enforcement officials descended upon a house in Paterson, N.J., they fully expected to find a large cache of narcotics. When they saw bloodstained walls inside a first-floor bedroom, they realized they’d discovered something much worse.

Seeking the source of all that blood, officers searched the home. They found 18 pit bulls living in appalling conditions. In the basement, 15 young pit bulls were jammed inside too-small dog crates. Three adult dogs lived chained in the backyard, trash cans tipped on their sides serving as their only shelter.

Most heartbreaking of all, police found the scar-ridden bodies of four dead dogs stuffed into trash bags and left in the basement.

Suddenly, it became clear to investigators. The dogs, emaciated and injured, were savagely being trained in that house to fight. Authorities realized they’d uncovered a large and previously unknown dog-fighting operation.

Cupid, rescued pit bull

Cupid, one of the Paterson raid dogs, showing his healing scars.

A further search of the house uncovered steroids used to amp up fighting dogs, needles, electronic shock collars and blood-covered sticks apparently used to pry open the dog’s jaws. In addition to all this horror, authorities found and seized a handgun and $12,000 in crack cocaine and marijuana.

Secret Cruelty in a New Jersey House

Most of the dogs recovered are less than a year old. All were thin and in terrible shape. According to one report, one dog was so severely affected by mange that it couldn’t walk. Others had been inside cages too small for them for so long, they too had trouble moving. One adult dog’s snout was so badly mauled it appeared deformed. Rescuers transported three of the dogs directly to a veterinarian for emergency treatment.

“I don’t know what they thought they were doing,” Stephanie Pearl, president of Second Chance Pet Adoption League, told North Jersey News. She said the dogs “were so skinny, it doesn’t look like they could fight anything.”

Dead Dogs in Plastic Bags Like Yesterdays Garbage

Paterson’s animal control officer, John DeCando, has been on the job for 37 years. Despite all that experience, even he was shocked by what was going on.

“We found four dead dogs in a garbage bag, thrown away like yesterday’s garbage,” DeCando told North Jersey News. ”It was horrible. This is one of the largest dog fighting rings I’ve seen.”

Neighbors questioned by police said they didn’t realize a dog fighting ring was operating right under their noses. They said they saw a few dogs at the residence, but not the 18 the police eventually found.

Sadly, though, neighbors admitted the dogs they saw in the yard were obviously malnourished. They said they could hear them “crying at night.” Why didn’t they report any of this to the police? Clearly, they should have. According to DeCando, however, “[P]eople are afraid to call” to report animal issues.

Suspect Faces 84 Counts of Animal Cruelty

The accused in this case, Caurie Swinger, 21, now faces 84 counts of animal cruelty in addition to drug and gun charges. Another man, Ashley Bryant, will not be charged with the animal crimes but is being charged with the narcotics and gun offenses.

Authorities charged Swinger on Apr. 24th with 18 counts of torturing and mutilating animals, four counts of knowingly killing animals, four counts of causing another person to kill an animal, two counts of running a dog-fighting operation, two counts of permitting animals to fight, and 18 counts of failing to provide food and water to animals.

He and Bryant are currently out on $50,000 bond.

For the Rescued Pitties, Theres Good News, Too

Fortunately, the horrible people who tried to train vicious fighting dogs failed to get their evil job done. According to those who rescued the Paterson raid dogs, every one of the pit bulls will have a chance at a bright new life.

“Each dog is adoptable; not one will be put to sleep,” DeCando said. “They’re friendly. They just got hooked up with bad people.”


Victoria is recovering from her ordeal, but scars are still visible.

The dogs reportedly responded hesitantly but in a non-threatening manner to the officers who found them. A little food went a long way to make those frightened, cowering pups wag their tails.

“They just wanted some attention,” DeCando told North Jersey News. “[The defendant] didn’t have a chance to make them mean yet.”

Anyone who still believes a pit bull is “bred to be vicious” should take careful note of what happened here. Despite spending their first year or more of life horrifically abused, starved and trained for maximum aggression, all 18 of the Paterson raid dogs responded only with happiness when treated with kindness. Not one has snapped at or bitten anyone handling them.

Remember that dog who’d lost some of her snout? She “was one of the worst dogs we’ve seen, just the dog-bite wounds. She just smelled like a giant infection. But she was the friendliest of all of them,” Stephanie Pearl told North Jersey News. Pit bulls a dangerous breed? No.

Second Chance Pet Adoption League is working with other rescue groups to find help in getting these dogs rehabilitated and eventually adopted into new, loving homes.

“They’re all very sweet,” said Pearl. ”They definitely will all be adoptable. It’s just a matter of finding the right home for them.”

Want to rescue a loving dog and help him or her forget a terrifying, bloody past? There are 18 sweet natured pit bulls up in New Jersey who’d love to meet you.

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Lead image shows Viola, another of the Paterson raid rescued pit bull pups. Photo credit for all images: Stephanie Pearl Facebook Page.

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1:55AM PDT on Jul 18, 2014

I am so glad these sweet babies were saved from a horrible life!! I hope they all find families who will love them!!

6:06PM PDT on May 20, 2014

This breed is so misunderstood and many die and suffer because of it.
So glad these dogs were rescued and they have a good chance of finding a home.

9:10PM PDT on May 19, 2014

How can the neighbors live with a clean concience of allowing all that death and pain to continue? There should be charges for them, too. Out on parole? There definitely needs to be stronger abuse and fighting penalties. Long term prison time and banned from animal possession. This is just sick. I can't imagine how they were living all being crammed in crates. The Pits have a bad rap. It is usually the idiot humans that are at fault for an incident involving a Pit.

4:14AM PDT on May 13, 2014

My heart hurts every time I read a story about the horrors some people subject animals to. There are so many good people out there that work hard for the money they earn. Then there's the garbage that are just looking for a free ride and destroy many lives in the process. It takes real men and women to make a living off the pain they cause others. Forcing animals to fight, selling drugs to kids and people that are dying from their addictions. If it weren't for the people that dedicate their time to helping others I would have to say it's a sad, sad world we live in and we don't deserve to be here. Thank you to the men and women that make a difference! After what I'm sure will be a long recovery, I hope these poor dogs find loving homes.

4:29PM PDT on May 9, 2014

I get used to the thought of giving humans that do something like that the same pain as the animals had to suffer! Penalties for what they get are too low! If they would have killed four humans they wouldn't have come out already on probation! Why not give everyone the same trashy treating they gave those poor creatures, everyday fighting for life? Some guy pulls his dog behind his car until he is dead and nothing more than a pulp? Welcome this human to the same procedure as he did. Put bulls mistreated like shit and killed for being too soft? Let's get all humans that were "trainers" of death get started against each other until one can't walk anymore and everyone of them begging for life!
I just have enough of reading stories about disgusting animal cruelty stories. The human race is a disgrace on earth and I hope one day animals stand up and get their revenge!
Normally I am pacifist and even against the death penalty, but when I read about all those nearly unpunished crimes, I get really angry and helpless at the same time!

5:30AM PDT on May 8, 2014

I agree Sara B, they should not have been let out on parole. PUNISH THEM, lock them up for a long time! And please anyone, if you know of an abused animal, speak up and report it. You can be anonymous, but you have to speak up, or, as said, you are just as bad for staying quiet.

1:41AM PDT on May 5, 2014

We live in such a cruel world.

12:35AM PDT on May 5, 2014

Thank you for saving these babies!

7:40PM PDT on May 4, 2014

We need harsher punishments for this sadistic pieces of trash that keep abusing animals . Animals are not a property, we do not own them , we are privleged if they share our lives.

2:16PM PDT on May 4, 2014

Sadly, this beautiful breed tend to fall into the clutches of these evil people far too often. Thank Goodness the police helped. There should be far harsher penalties for animal cruelty/neglect....

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