By Barbara Liston
ORLANDO Fla. (Reuters) - Police arrested 26 people and rescued 28 dogs on Tuesday night in a raid on what they believe to be a dog-fighting ring operating throughout central Florida.
The raid broke up a dog fight in the backyard of a home in Apopka, less than 20 miles (32 km) northwest of Orlando, according to Apopka police spokeswoman Kim Walsh.
Two critically injured dogs were removed from the scene on stretchers, and several other dogs were found with broken legs, Walsh said. All of the dogs were pit bulls or pit-bull mixed breeds, she added.
Walsh said detectives are trying to determine the scope of the operation but believe fights were rotated among several properties around the region.
All those arrested face felony charges for animal cruelty, the homeowner faces an added charge for facilitating the event and several were charged additionally with resisting arrest. A few other participants may have escaped, police said.
"Everyone ran, even the people whose dogs were engaged in an active fight. They literally were busting through the fences," Walsh said.
Police confiscated all of the participants’ vehicles, and found a critically injured dog in one, she added.
Officers also discovered an active marijuana garden for which additional charges could be levied, she said.
(Editing by David Adams and Paul Simao)