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Dog fighting charges filed after injured dogs spotted in yard

Injured dogs spotted in the yard at 61 Monroe St. led to animal cruelty charges against a Buffalo man.

Shondel Stephens, 49, pleaded not guilty Tuesday in State Supreme Court in Buffalo to charges of prohibition of animal fighting, possession of animal fighting paraphernalia and two counts of cruelty to animals. Items found in the house and injuries on dogs indicate Stephens engaged in dog fighting, prosecutors said.

Stephens was using his house to train pit bulls to fight, according to Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn.

Investigators from the SPCA Serving Erie County executed a search warrant on Aug. 31. Four dogs were recovered at the house. Two of the dogs had extensive punctures and lacerations on their heads and legs. One also had a large hole in its chest from a puncture or tear.

Assistant District Attorney Justin T. Wallens of the Animal Cruelty Unit said, along with the dogs, investigators found a tire suspended from a heavy spring -- a set-up used to build jaw strength in the dogs -- along with supplements and other items common to training dogs for fighting.

Stephens, who was arrested Nov. 21, pleaded not guilty. Justice Russell P. Buscaglia allowed him to remain free on his own recognizance.

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