Three Men Arrested & 36 Pit Bulls Rescued Yesterday From Long Island Dogfighting Ring
Taikeem Wheeler, 26, Richard Davis, 34, and Martin Newkirk, 49, all of Wyandanch, were charged with allegedly running illegal dog breeding and training facilities. Photo Credits: NYSAG
Three men allegedly involved in a horrendous dogfighting ring in Long Island were arrested yesterday and charged with breeding and training pit bulls for profit.
Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and Suffolk County Police Commissioner Timothy Sini made the announcement after a seven-month investigation, dubbed “Operation Bloodline,” resulted in the rescue of 36 pit bulls which ranged from one week to seven years of age.
“Dogfighting is an obscenely vicious and cruel form of animal abuse that tortures animals and endangers the safety of the public. It’s barbaric, despicable, and illegal,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “No animal should be forced to fight to the death for human entertainment and profit, or bred and trained for that purpose. We’re committed to ending this vicious blood sport, and will continue to hold abusers accountable.”
“The Suffolk County Police Department will continue to seek out such depraved individuals who have the mistaken belief they have the right to beat, maim and murder innocent animals,” continued Suffolk County Police Commissioner Timothy D. Sini. “There is no place in our county or society for such inhumane acts of abuse towards any animal and especially for profit. Our department is committed to seek out perpetrators involved in dogfighting and animal cruelty and to work with our state and local law enforcement partners to bring charges to the fullest extent the law allows.”
Richard Davis, 34, Martin Newkirk, 49, and Taikeem Wheeler, 26, of Wyandanch were arrested yesterday and arraigned today on complaints charging each of them with multiple felony offenses of Prohibition of Animal Fighting in violation of New York State Agriculture and Markets Law 351(2)(b), Conspiracy in the Fifth Degree, and other Animal Cruelty crimes.
The defendants are alleged to have each operated a so-called kennel that actually served as staging ground for the dogfighting ring.
All 36 of the pit bulls were found virtually imprisoned in deplorable conditions, often tethered to heavy chains and segregated from one another, with no visible food or drinkable water, and with injuries consistent with earlier fights.
Police also recovered numerous items of dogfighting paraphernalia that demonstrate the sophistication of the alleged training and breeding of these dogs by Wheeler, Davis, and Newkirk.
Sadly, three of the pit bulls had to be euthanized.
The remaining recovered dogs are currently being sheltered by the ASPCA in order to allow them to heal and hopefully be retrained and adopted.
Dogfighting is a crime in all 50 states. In New York, dogfighting and the breeding and training of dogs for that purpose are felonies, and each charge carries a maximum penalty of four years in jail and a fine of $25,000.
In May 2013, the Attorney General announced his Animal Protection Initiative, which included the goal of shutting down underground animal fighting rings across the state.
New Yorkers can provide anonymous tips about potential animal fighting rings or report animal abuse by calling 1-866-697-3444.