Cries alert cops to 38 pit bulls at home
By Kirk Mitchell and Julianne Bentley
Denver Post Staff Writers
Authorities found 38 caged dogs Monday at a home at 1892 S. Raleigh St. in Denver after neighbors had complained about vicious-sounding barking, yelping and crying. (9News)
A Harvey Park neighborhood was filled with yelps and barks so fierce that residents began calling police.
When officers arrived at 1892 S. Raleigh St. on Monday, they found 38 pit bulls packed in cages, police said.
The dogs' owner - Michael Padilla, 38 - was cited for cruelty and neglect and having the banned dogs in Denver.
Padilla also was taken to a local hospital because one of the dogs had bitten off the tip of a finger, authorities said.
Padilla said in an interview later Monday that his finger was not bitten off by his dogs. Rather, he was unstacking the crates of two dogs when his fingertip got stuck in between, he said.
"There was a lot of commotion," Padilla said. "Somehow it pinched, and my finger got cut off."
Neighbors began calling police before midnight Friday complaining about dogs bawling and barking, said Virginia Quiñones, Denver police spokeswoman.
"It was horrible - it sounded like someone was being attacked or they were fighting," said Rita Poitra, 59, who lives across the street from the single-family ranch house.
Police found several caged pit bulls outside, some with dried blood on them and scars apparently from fighting other dogs, Quiñones said.
Padilla said the blood came from his severed finger.
"I don't fight them," said Padilla, a locksmith by trade.
He said he told police that the animals were used sometimes as show dogs and that he raises and sells them as a hobby. Primarily, the pit bulls are bred and then sold through his website, The Pit Shop.
The site sells "UKC or ADBA registered" "XL Large, thick head, low to the ground, large mouth, monster size pits" and the breeders "are trying to bring these misunderstood gentle loving dogs into a more positive light."
Police, however, disagreed with his characterization.
"Anyone that is familiar with show dogs would know that these dogs were in no condition to be in the show ring," Quiñones said. "The dogs were all extremely massive and were obviously agitated."
Padilla said he told police he had arrived May 23 from Texas and was supposed to be moving to Brighton with the dogs. The animals were anxious and edgy from being in their kennels, he added.
He said he was unaware the dogs were illegal in Denver.
Padilla's mother lives at the house, said owner Steven Ivey, 50. He allowed Padilla and his dogs to stay briefly.
"It was an innocent deal," Ivey said. "They were closing on a house in Adams County. It was a mess up with the Realtors, or they would have already moved."
Ivey was not cited, Quiñones said.
Padilla said he didn't release the pit bulls from their kennels because there was an inadequate fence.
"It's not cruel. What are you supposed to do? Even the shelter is going to put them in cages," Padilla said.
Doug Kelly, director of Denver animal control, said there were 19 puppies and 19 adult dogs. Most were in good health, but one was taken to an animal hospital for treatment.
He said animal-control officers will confirm that the dogs are pit bulls. If Padilla can verify they are headed to a city where pit bulls are allowed, at least some can be returned. But if the town has limits on the number of animals, at least some will be put down.
"It will take some time to figure out what we've got," Kelly said.
Staff writer Kirk Mitchell can be reached at 303-820-1206 or firstname.lastname@example.org