Justice Dept. seeks custody of ‘pit bull-type dogs’ from alleged dogfighting ring

The Department of Justice filed a civil forfeiture complaint to obtain six dogs involved in an alleged interstate dogfighting ring.

The animals, described in a Justice Department statement as “six pit bull-type dogs,” were seized June 1 during a search of a Westville, N.J., home owned by Justin Love, 36. Love was arrested and charged with violating the Animal Welfare Act, a felony charge aimed at those who train dogs to fight. A conviction can bring up to five years imprisonment, and the law includes a provision by which the dogs involved can be seized by federal authorities, then evaluated and placed for adoption.

The Justice Department said the dogs found were scarred and hostile to other dogs, conditions consistent with dogfighting.

The statement identified a female dog called “Momba” with severe scarring and other injuries; her physical condition also indicated that she was used for breeding. Dogfighting training equipment was also found on the Westville property, including flirt poles, used to condition a dog and foster natural hunting instincts, and a spring pole, used to strengthen a dog’s neck and jaw muscles. Injectable medication, syringes, sterile gel, and topical and oral antibiotics were also discovered; owners of fighting dogs typically treat their dogs themselves instead of seeking veterinary attention.

Nine people, including Love, were arrested in four states on June 1 in part of an undercover operation known as “Operation Grand Champion,” a term in the dogfighting world to indicate a dog with more than five fighting victories.

The Humane Society of the United States is assisting with the care of the dogs.


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