8 pit bulls seized, 3 found dead in West Jefferson Co.

One of the seized pit bulls sits in the lap of Dr. Nicole Metcalf. (

Wednesday a hearing took custody away from a dog owner who deputies say neglected his animals, and trained them to {}fight. Eight pit bulls were seized - all of them so skinny, you could see their bones. Three, were found dead. But it's not the first time this dog owner was accused of running a compound...{}

Last year, investigators found 13 chained to stakes with dog fighting equipment and now 8 more are part of a new investigation. In September 2011, firefighters tried to put out flames in the Shady Grove area and stumbled upon a compound full of dog fighting equipment. Investigators gave us an exclusive look inside where 13 dogs- they believe, were trained to fight. "Some of them were bleeding, some of them, you could see the scars from where they had been fighting and training," Niko Vasilakis, Jefferson County Deputy told us September 3, 2011 "Pick them up, carry them out by hand."A judge didn't side with investigators...."The judge who presided over that hearing, against my recommendation, rewarded all the dogs back to the person except two," Dwight Sloan, Animal Cruelty Investigator, Jefferson County said.Just a few weeks ago, investigators found 8 more dogs in similar circumstances at the same location - 3 of them, dead. 'The only things in the dogs stomachs were pine shavings, dirt and rocks," Dr. Nicole Metcalf, BJC Animal Control Veterinarian said. "I did not see anything that looked like food.""These dogs could hardly hold their head up," Sloan said. "The only thing I could compare it to is a rug thrown over a clothes line - they were so poor."The five survivors are now at BJC Animal Control. They don't have names yet, but one stands out above the rest. {}She's a one year old pit bull and because she didn't get enough nutrition, her limbs couldn't develop."When you look at them, you can see ribs, spine, hip bone, back bones, everything is protruding," Dr. Metcalf said. "There is no body fat on them at all."Two of the three dogs we met were so skittish, they had to be carried."I don't understand how someone can do that," Dr. Metcalf said. "How someone can see an animal suffering and not feel the need to step in."The 5 surviving dogs are already starting to show signs of improvement. Most likely they will go to foster families or be adopted. Investigators tell us, criminal charges may be filed pending a report from the veterinarians.{}