The Animal Rescue Corps removed 65 dogs from the property of a suspected dog fighting operation Saturday in Ashland City.
The mission, called Operation Broken Chain, rescued 65 dogs, mostly Pit Bull Terriers and some Beagles. All of the dogs rescued required medical attention and none had access to food or fresh water, the Cheatham County Animal Control said.
The dogs also had sores on their bodies and had signs of internal parasites.
Michael Cunningham of the Animal Rescue Corps said the dogs had "a lot of scarring, having their teeth removed [and] broken bones."
He continued, "[The dogs had] very thick, heavy chains around [their] necks. Their collars are wide collars and they're on so tight you can't even get your finger between the collar and the dog's neck."
The Ashland City and Pleasant View fire departments responded to a brush fire at the residence on Thanksgiving Day. While on the property, the crews noticed the large number of dogs, which prompted them to call animal control.
ARC's president said he believes the dog fighting rescue is the largest in the state's history.
"The conditions Animal Rescue Corps found on this property are the worst I have ever seen at a dog fighting operation in my 22-year career in animal protection," Scotlund Haisley said.
Cheatham County Animal Control found a treadmill, a fighting pen and a spring pole used for strengthening dog's jaws on site. Officials said those items are usually connected to dog fighting rings.
The animals are now being cared for at New Leash on Life, an emergency shelter in Lebanon, where their behavior is being tested and they are receiving medical attention.
The dogs are expected to be at the emergency shelter for at least 10 days before they are placed in foster homes.
Finding foster homes for such a large number of pit bulls could be a challenge.
"We'll be working specifically with pit bull rescue groups throughout the country to place these dogs," Haisley said.
Despite being trained to fight, many of the dogs have not been aggressive toward the volunteers.
"There are several that are just very scared and shy but for the majority of them, they just want to be loved on," Amy Halverstick with New Leash on Life told Nashville's News 2.
No charges have been filed against the owner of the property but volunteers with ARC told Nashville's News 2 federal investigators are now involved.
"[Dog fighting] is a felony offense, not only a state felony offense but a federal felony offense," Haisley said.
For more information on Animal Rescue Corps, visit their Web site.