CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Two east Charlotte men are in jail charged with training dogs to fight after police seized 27 dogs from their home near Hickory Grove.
Melvin Smith, 46, and Lefonze Williams, 42, were both being held on $25,000 secured bond Saturday in Mecklenburg County jail.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police said an officer checking out a tip found the dogs Friday morning behind a home on Carelock Circle, in a yard with a large privacy fence.
The officer could see some of the dogs chained to stakes in the yard. Several pens are visible from the street, along with a blue shed police said was used for training or fighting the dogs.
Investigators seized 27 dogs, along with equipment for dog training. That included treadmills, heavy chains, mats, and antibiotics and supplements to make the dogs stronger, said CMPD Lt. JD Thomas.
Lt. Thomas said officers also found two dead puppies.
Most of the dogs had injuries consistent with dogfighting, said Thomas, but none needed emergency treatment.
The animals were taken to the Animal Care and Control shelter in west Charlotte.
"It's horrible," said Shannon Corkwell, a supervisor with Animal Care and Control. "These are dogs that seek our attention. They want us to pet them, they want us to play with them -- and somebody's taken them for a blood sport for their own entertainment."
The dogs have to stay at the shelter until the owners turn them over to CMPD, the case is settled, or a judge decides what to do with them sooner.
"Just like any other crime that has evidence, we have live evidence," said Corkwell, "so they'll remain here in our care until a judge makes a determination on their outcome."
Lt. Thomas said the dogs would have to be evaluated before they could be adopted to determine if they're suitable to live in homes. Some could also go to rescues.
Carol Gaston, who lives behind Carelock Circle, said Saturday was a lot quieter than normal at her house -- there were no dogs barking.
"It just sounds like a whole lot of dogs," she said. "I mean, a large amount!" She emphasized the words "large amount."
Another concern for Gaston and neighbors -- the home where the dogs lived was right behind J.H. Gunn Elementary School.
"Any of those dogs could have gotten out during school hours," said Gaston, "and some kids could have been seriously injured."