Couple Charged with Running Gruesome Dog Fighting Ring
This lovely couple is Shane L. Santiago and Laura Acamparo, both 33, of the 1300 block of North Manor Road in West Brandywine Township, PA. They’ve been charged with a variety of crimes including cruelty to animals and endangering the welfare of children after it was discovered they were running a dog fighting ring out of their basement, in the same home where they were ‘raising’ five children!
Be warned that some of the details are graphic!
Authorities became alerted to this “House of Horrors” after finding several dead pitbulls in the area, an almost sure sign of a dog fighting ring close by. Investigators began probing the county for dog-fighting activity after two pit bulls were found, one maimed and one burned alive in its cage, along the sides of area roads. Radar, who was found badly mauled in February and left for dead in a roadside ravine, is currently recovering under the care of the Chester County SPCA. Another pit bull was found dead, caged and burned, along Route 82 in West Brandywine in September.
Santiago’s name came to attention when he was arrested during a drug investigation. They also heard reports of large numbers of people coming and going, many with dogs further indicating a dog fighting ring.
The next break came when Santiago and Acampora were being evicted from their home in West Brandywine and the owner allowed investigators to examine the house for evidence.
“When we got into that home, what we found was a nightmare,” Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan said. “This was a full-scale operation of not only dog fighting, but dog training, dog breeding and dog killing.”
Investigating the rented home after the eviction, it quickly dubbed the “House of Horrors” due to the blood caked walls and carpets, they also found a coaxial cable, formed into a hanging noose, a blood spattered wood fighting ring in the basement and a book entitled “Fighting for Life” as well as injured and malnourished dogs. Investigators also found a dead pit bull puppy wrapped in trash bags in a trash can.
“That residence was a house of pain and horror for the dogs that lived there. The defendants’ dogs lived by one rule: Fight and win, or die,” according to Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan.
Santiago, who must have been reading from Michael Vick’s playbook, admitted to killing at least 10 dogs saying that if a dog quit during a fight, it would be executed by one of several methods, including hanging, drowning, and electrocution.
According to the affidavit of probably cause Santiago related a story on one dog the bit his daughter while she was feeding it. Santiago said that after he freed his daughter from the dog’s grip, he executed the animal by hanging.
Santiago told investigators that he and Acampora “were planning on making the training and fighting of pit bull dogs a family business,” the complaint said. He said he had planned to host two upcoming dog-fighting matches in his home – one in December and one in January, the complaint said.
Santiago and Acampora are charged with more than 30 counts of animal cruelty, endangering the welfare of a child, and conspiracy to commit animal cruelty. Both are being held in Chester County Prison and are scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday on a long list of charges stemming from the arrest.
Authorities believe they’ve dealt a major blow to dog fighting in Chester County.
“Usually you are catching one person who’s got a couple dogs, who just happened to be hosting a fight that day. Who we caught is the person running the main dogfighting operation in Chester County,” Hogan said. “It’s like catching the top of the drug pyramid as your first step.”
“For the dogs that were held by this defendant, the nightmare is over. They are either dead or we have rescued them. But for tens of thousands of dogs across the United States, the nightmare continues. They are still being used for dog fighting.”
Will there be justice? Only time will tell but I could think of some sentences worthy of these paragons of virtue…
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