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Originally published Sunday, March 21, 2010 at 7:58 PM

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15 dogs rescued from Oregon dogfighting ring

Sheriff's deputies in Oregon's Benton County found 15 malnourished pit bulls with old scars or fresh wounds last week, providing a glimpse into dogfighting rings in the area.

ALSEA, Ore. — Sheriff's deputies in Benton County found 15 malnourished pit bulls with old scars or fresh wounds last week, providing a glimpse into dogfighting rings in the area.

The Corvallis Gazette Times reports deputies also found three dead dogs buried under trees in a 6-acre property in Alsea.

"They were being prepared for organized dog fighting," said Lt. Greg Ridler of the Benton County Sheriff's Office.

Authorities say dog fighting is fueled by drugs and gambling, and often leaves the dogs dead, maimed or too traumatized to be safely adopted.

Police say one man was arrested in connection with dog fighting. Corvallis resident Cody Hufeld was arraigned Friday on 15 felony counts of dog fighting, and three felony counts of possessing dogfighting paraphernalia, including heavy collars used for strength training. He also faces drug charges with two other people.

Benton County Sheriff Diana Simpson said the absence of a fighting pit at the Alsea property suggests the dogs were being transported elsewhere for the fighting.

"We'll continue to investigate and see if others were involved, see where it leads," Simpson said.

Scott Heiser, a former Benton County district attorney who is now a senior staff attorney for the Animal Legal Defense Fund, said dog fighting is present in every state, and can make dog handlers rich from gambling or stud fees.

"Dogs they don't want anymore, they'll shoot on the spot," Heiser said.

The 15 dogs rescued are at the Heartland Humane Society in Corvallis. All the dogs are kept in separate cages to avoid sight of each other, and agitation.

Shelter staff say the dogs are friendly to people but get aggressive when they see other animals.

"Pit-bull rescues are just overrun. There are so many pit bulls that need help. They can be really hard to find placements for," said shelter operations director Brittany Gardner. "We don't know what's going to happen with these guys."

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