LAWRENCEVILLE - Three Norcross men allegedly responsible for 37 pit bull dogs are being held without bond on drug charges while officials determine whether the trio will also face animal cruelty charges.
Officer Darren Moloney, spokesman for the Gwinnett County Police Department, said police are waiting until a doctor has had a better chance to look at the animals and assess their condition before deciding whether to charge Tyrone Laval Drayton, 19; Raymond Barry Washington, 25; and John Holmes, 21, with cruelty to animals.
A Gwinnett Animal Control officer arrived at the 6089 Williams Road residence Tuesday morning to look into reports of animal cruelty.
Upon arrival, the officer observed multiple pit-bull dogs, several of which appeared to be severely physically neglected, police reports said.
The officer also saw what appeared to be marijuana when he made contact with the men, at which point he detained them and obtained a search warrant.
Police reports indicate some of the puppies were suffering from severe malnutrition and a veterinarian at the scene said the animals were exhibiting signs consistent with neglect and physical cruelty.
There were also several shallow graves in the backyard of the residence where the remains of a puppy were found in a black, plastic garbage bag.
Moloney said one puppy was currently under a doctor's care because it was in pretty bad shape, but it appeared it would live.
"I was shocked when I arrived at the scene," Moloney said. "It's hard to see anybody doing anything like that to animals."
Neighbors of the men also expressed feelings of shock when they found out how many dogs there were.
"Why would someone have 37 pit bulls?" Leon Vuong said. "I'm glad someone called, but I feel bad for those dogs."
"I'm thankful Gwinnett County stayed on the ball," Phyllis Harris said when told there were 37 dogs. "But I had no idea there were that many. I thought there were about six."
Neighbors also said they are relieved that police intervened because the dogs were becoming a nuisance.
"It was really annoying because we heard those dogs barking all the time," Vuong said. "Maybe now we'll have some peace and quiet."
Harris, whose property backs up to that of the three men, said that she sometimes heard gunfire in the middle of the night and in the afternoon coming from that residence.
Moloney said police had been looking into the residence for some time for alleged drug activity.
The three men are being held in police custody on drug-related charges.
Animal cruelty charges of the first degree carry a maximum year in jail or a fine of $5,000 or both.
Moloney said police were not yet sure of what would happen to the dogs and they were being held by animal control as evidence.