Three people have been arrested in Sevier County, Tennessee for dog-fighting operations after a four-month investigation.

County authorities, together with HSUS, Blount County SPCA and Sevier County Sheriff’s Animal Control, visited a property in Sevierville suspected of running illegal dog fights and found 50 dogs, dog fighting paraphernalia, money and drugs.

Mark Heatherly, 47, was charged with 2 counts of dog fighting. His wife Kimberly Heatherly, 45, and son, Jacob Heatherly, 23, were charged with conspiracy to commit dog fighting. They were all also charged with possession of schedule III and VI narcotics.

All dogs, ranging from 4 weeks to mid-teens, will be cared for and rehabilitated in a temporary shelter while the case is ongoing.

“These 50 dogs are the lucky ones who no longer face life at the end of a heavy chain or worse—a bloody pit,” said Chris Schindler, manager of animal fighting investigations for The HSUS.

“We are thankful to the Sevier County authorities for their efforts in this investigation and in forcing dogfighting out of their community.

“We will continue working with law enforcement around the country to stamp out this blood sport for good.”

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