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Pit bulls seized in Johnson County will likely be put down

FORT WORTH -- Most, if not all, of the 36 pit bulls and pit-bull mixes seized Tuesday from a property in Johnson County likely will be euthanized, a Humane Society official said Wednesday.

Workers at the Humane Society of North Texas shelter have evaluated about half of the dogs and determined they would be dangerous to the public and to other dogs if they were released, said Tammy Hawley, director of operations.

Some of the dogs have attempted to attack other dogs and don't back down as dogs typically do, she said.

"Somebody somewhere has encouraged this type of behavior," Hawley said. "They're very eager to please and want to do what someone taught them to do."

On Tuesday, Johnson County Sheriff's Department investigators executed a search warrant authorizing them to look for dogfighting paraphernalia on the property where the dogs were found, according to the warrant, which was released Wednesday.

Authorities were first called to the lot in the 3900 block of Reese Drive between Venus and Mansfield when workers foreclosing on the property saw chained animals.

Officers found four dead dogs and seized 36 pit bulls and pit-bull mixes and a German shepherd, sheriff's Detective Steve Shaw said.

In a search-warrant affidavit, Shaw wrote that a Humane Society investigator looked through a glass door of a mobile home and saw syringes, medications and other items that "would be used in treating dogs injured in fighting."

Investigators found vaccines, wound gel, syringes, IV setups and material from the American Dog Breed Association and the American Pit Bull Terrier Registry, according to a court document.

Shaw declined to comment about whether the items found indicated a dogfighting operation.

Hawley said the dogs were malnourished, and their scars suggested that they had been in fights. The dogs are aggressive toward other dogs but are gentle with humans, she said.

The search warrant identified the property owners as John Charles Phillips and Jennifer L. Phillips. No phone listing could be found for the couple.

A court hearing is scheduled for July 3 to determine whether the dogs will be returned to the owners. If they're not, they likely will remain in the custody of the Humane Society, Hawley said.

"If somebody hadn't have stepped in now, all 37 of these dogs would have parented other dogs, and they'd all be out there living this kind of life," Hawley said. "And it's not much of a life."

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