The Los Angeles Police Department on Wednesday announced that a 41-year-old South Los Angeles man has been arrested and charged with possessing 17 fighting dogs and dog-fighting paraphernalia.
Walter Citizen, 41, was arrested in April and is in Men's Central Jail awaiting a court date next week. He has been charged with 10 felony counts related to dog fighting.
Meanwhile, police said they are searching for an accomplice, Arnett Counts, 40.
"These guys were in possession of 17 dogs who had multiple old scars, particularly on their face, chest, forelimbs and their ears -- and some of them also had new wounds," said LAPD Det. Susan Brumagin. "One still had medical staples in it -- you just don't get all this scarring by accidentally getting off a chain and fighting another dog."
Citizen pleaded not guilty last month. His attorney could not be reached for comment.
The dogs -- in addition to four puppies also found at the home -- are being kept in city shelters, where they have been treated for their wounds and will be held as evidence for the time being. Deborah Knaan, assistant general manager for operations of the city's animal services agency, said the dogs could be adopted if they are found to not be aggressive to people or animals.
Brumagin said that police suspected dogs were being trained for fighting at a home on 85th Street after it was the subject of an unrelated narcotics investigation in 2004.
Officials didn't immediately follow up on their suspicions, however, due to a lack of communication between the LAPD and the city's animal services agency, Brumagin said. But a subsequent complaint spurred police to investigate activity at the house in early March.
The arrest was one of the most high profile so far for the city's fledgling animal cruelty task force, created in 2005.
Anyone with information about the whereabouts of suspected accomplice Counts is asked to call the animal cruelty task force at (213) 847-1417.