In her 35 years at the Town of North Hempstead Animal Shelter in Port Washington, Director Susan Hassett has never witnessed anything as disturbing as the brutality she found in a New Cassel garage early Saturday morning. That’s when Nassau County police discovered 18 pit bulls, many of them wounded, as part of a dog-fighting ring.
“Horrifying,” Hassett said. “I’ve never seen anything like this.”
Alerted by police Saturday at about 1 a.m., Hassett headed over to 721 Broadway in New Cassel where inside a garage on the property she saw a small makeshift boxing ring made of plywood.
“There were dogs still in the ring that were being fought,” she said. “Their conditions were horrible, horrible. We seized 18 dogs.”
While the incident remains under investigation, police have charged Monica Christopher, 38, who lives at the New Cassel property. Police say they found syringes and penicillin and steroids, as well as two treadmills that they say were used to train dogs for fighting. They also found pens to store the dogs throughout the house.
The five dogs that were actively fought were hospitalized, but three had to be euthanized because of their injuries, Hassett said.
Some of the dogs that were actively fought have old wounds, and mangled legs. The two still in the hospital have broken bones, Hassett said.
The dogs are considered evidence by the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office. But ultimately the dogs may be put up for adoption, Hassett said.
“We’re just basically babysitting the dogs, making sure they’re OK, taking care of medical needs,” she said. If and when the dogs are released, “we will evaluate each one of them and do the best we can to have them adopted,” Hassett said. “There are quite a few dogs here that are under six months, so their prospects are great."
The dogs, Hassett said, “are pretty thin” and “obviously didn’t get any TLC where they were.”
As for their temperament, Hassett said her team was able to handle “most every one of the 18 dogs.”
“People have the wrong idea of some of the fighting dogs,” she added. “They’re trained to fight dogs, but they’re perfectly fine with people. Dogs trust us.”
“Unfortunately, with rings, they move, so those dogs, had not someone called, they would have been next,” Hassett said.
Hassett urges anyone who thinks they come across a dog fighting ring to call police.
As for the incident in New Cassel, Hassett said, “Whoever made the call saved that dog's life," noting, “some of those dogs we picked up were puppies.”