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Suspected dogfighting, cockfighting operation discovered in Pierce County

Authorities from Pierce County and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals were present Wednesday, Sept. 6, at a County Road BB property in the town of Gilman. Mike Longaecker / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 3
This dog was one of several found at a Pierce County property where a suspected dog- and cock-fighting operation was discovered last week. Photo courtesy of ASPCA2 / 3
Officials from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals were at a County Road BB property Wednesday, Sept. 5, in the town of Gilman. Mike Longaecker / RiverTown Multimedia3 / 3

Animal rescues and arrests followed the discovery of an alleged dog- and cock-fighting operation where suspected drugs were also found last week in rural Pierce County.

Officials from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) — who spent days assisting law enforcement at a 7789 County Road BB farm — announced Thursday that 1,300 animals were found there, where two people lived. A news release said most of the animals were chickens, along with more than a dozen dogs allegedly bred for fighting.

The discovery, which the Pierce County Sheriff's Office said also turned up about four pounds of methamphetamine, an indoor marijuana growing operating and about a pound of dried pot, occurred Thursday, Aug. 30.

The sheriff's office said the discovery happened after U.S. marshals went to the property in search of Houa Dia Vang, who was arrested on a drug-related warrant and jailed in Minnesota, according to Pierce County Sheriff Nancy Hove. While at the property, marshals saw drugs at the home. Deputies got a search warrant for the property and found drugs, along with the suspected animal fighting operation, according to the sheriff's office.

Hove said there were no plants in the alleged growing operation — just stems and equipment.

The ASPCA said the animals, found living in "deplorable conditions" throughout the property, were removed and taken to emergency shelters. Dogs were found tied to heavy chains and displayed injuries consistent with dogfighting, according to the ASPCA, adding that roosters on the property appeared to have been altered for cockfighting.

"This is the second large-scale animal cruelty case we have encountered in the past two years," Hove said, referring to the 2016 Stuart West case, which led to 62 separate convictions against the Elmwood-area man who raised dogs found in squalor-like conditions.

She said a fighting ring was also found on the property.

The sheriff’s office isn’t sure how long the suspected operation had been in operation, Hove said.

A woman living at the property, identified as Senyen Vang, was arrested Wednesday, Sept. 5 on suspicion of meth possession.

Hove said deputies responded to a 2017 complaint at the property for unfed dogs. She said a deputy observed five dogs there, all of which looked appeared to be OK.

No formal charges had been filed in the case as of Thursday, though the ASPCA noted in a news release that animal fighting is a felony offense in Wisconsin.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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