Early this week, a tipster finally put a stop to a dog-fighting operation in Seffner, FL, that is almost unbelievable in its scope, with hundreds of dogs believed to have been killed over a 20-year period. The dogs were then buried right on the property, according to Tampa Bay Online.
What’s more, the two property owners, 55-year-old Vannie Franklin and his nephew, 41-year-old Russell Franklin, showed no remorse when confronted by investigators. Instead, authorities say they laughed and joked about their operation.
“While we were at the property, the individual there admitted to us he’d been fighting dogs out there for 20 years and jokingly said we were walking on a graveyard,” said Sgt. Pam Perry of Hillsborough County Animal Services.
Investigators are still searching the property, but they’ve described a “graveyard of dead dogs all over the property, including a mound of dog bodies.” They said they also found tools for fighting and a blood-stained pit where the events took place, according to Tampa Bay Online.
“A lot of chains with no dogs on them,” said Perry, according to Bay News 9. “So I don’t know where they are. Probably deceased.”
In a press conference, Perry went into graphic detail: “The stench out there is of feces, and it smelled like dead bodies.”
“There was also a chain with a collar, and as you reached the end of that chain with the collar and looked up to a mound, there was a jaw and a skull of a dog. There was also a pit out there with blood on the carpeting and blood on the carpeting around the pit,” she said.
The one bright light in this horrific situation is that investigators found seven dogs still alive, though some with severe injuries. One had fresh wounds across his body — rescuers lovingly named him Rudolph, after his still-bleeding, red nose. All the dogs were infested with fleas and parasites, but Perry said they’re all nice dogs who are good with people, despite the horrors they encountered.
“They deserve to live the rest of their life in luxury,” she said, “because they were living in a kill zone.”
As for the Franklins, both of whom are convicted felons, they’re facing a slew of charges and are being held. The investigation is ongoing, however, and more arrests are expected.