Pa. couple forced dogs to 'fight and win, or die,' DA says

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By Tim Furlong and David Chang, NBCPhiladelphia.com

Charges were announced Wednesday morning against a Chester County, Pa., couple accused of running a major dogfighting operation out of their home on Manor Road in West Brandywine.

Prosecutors say Shane Santiago and his wife were running the operation while their five children lived at the home. Officials say the couple raised pit bulls, trained them on treadmills and gave them steroid-type medicines to make them stronger. They then taught the dogs to kill other dogs, according to prosecutors.

Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan said the couple had the stronger dogs practice on weaker dogs. Dogfighters from other states allegedly came to their home and watched the dogs fight, often to the death. While the winning dogs were taken home, the losing dogs either died in the ring or were killed by the owners, according to prosecutors.

Hogan said officials recovered jumper cables with hair on them in Santiago's basement. Santiago allegedly used the cables to electrocute the dogs.

"The dogs lived by one rule," said Hogan. "Fight and win, or die. At least 10 dogs died by defendant Shane Santiago's hands, and countless more were maimed in these dogfights."

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Hogan said authorities were alerted to the possibility of dogfighting in the western part of Chester County when they received reports of dead and mutilated pit bulls along roadsides over the last few months.

Officials originally targeted Santiago as part of a drug operation, which eventually led them to the dogfighting connection, according to investigators. Santiago and his wife were both charged with animal cruelty and child endangerment. They are in custody.

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