Deputies took a man into custody after discovering 17 pit bulls at a suspected dog-fighting ring in Alabama.
The ring, located behind a property in Jefferson County, was covered in fresh blood when deputies arrived and four of the dogs had been injured in what appeared to be a recent dog fight, according to a statement from the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office.
The deputies also located 11 dog skulls at the property.
"It's gut-wrenching and heartbreaking," Chief Deputy Randy Christian told AL.com.
He added that the idea that people saw it as a sport was "despicable and hard to comprehend."
Deputies arrested and charged Reginald Antonio Dowdell, 42, with one count of felony dog fighting in the case. Additional charges could also be possible, according to AL.com.
"Anyone who can put animals in a ring like that to fight to the death has no heart, they don't know love," Deputy Tim Sanford told WVTM 13.
Officers discovered the alleged dog-fighting ring after someone had called in a complaint about possible dog fighting around 11:30 a.m. on Sunday.
When they arrived on the scene, it sounded like dogs were fighting in the woods behind a residence, the sheriff's office said.
As they walked back to the source of the noise, they saw a juvenile carrying an injured dog and then proceeded to find the remaining dogs and bloody ring.
The animals were taken by animal control. They are currently being evaluated by the Humane Society to test and determine whether they can be rehabilitated and adopted, WVTM 13 reported.
"I pray that each one of them can be rehabilitated and put with some families," Sanford told the news station.
Alison Black Cornelius, president and CEO of the Greater Birmingham Humane Society, took to social media to express her outrage about the incident.
"None of us will ever forget what we saw and none of us will rest until violence like this stops," she wrote. "It sickens me to think these people live and walk amongst us in our community. "
She later called for action to prevent animal cruelty.
"The time is now, right now, to enforce our laws and to launch a full on assault against these crimes and the people who perpetrate them," she wrote.
[Photo: Jefferson County Sheriff]