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Dog fighting charges filed against 3 people accused of abandoning dozens of dogs

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SMITHFIELD, Pa. - Three people have been arrested in connection with the abandonment of nearly 30 dogs in a remote area of Fayette County. 

Investigators have charged Edward Harris, Regis Grooms and Melisha Robinson, who is a Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission employee, with several counts, including felony animal cruelty charges. They are also facing animal-fighting charges accusing them of, "knowingly possessing 29 pit bulls for the purpose of dog fighting." 

Harris, who is from Uniontown, was the owner of the dogs. Investigators say he raises, trains and fights pit bulls. 

PREVIOUS STORY: Dozens of dogs found malnourished, tied down with heavy chains

Channel 11 found out police recorded Harris' phone calls and allege they caught him speaking in great detail about his dog-fighting experience.

He is currently in the Perry County Jail on unrelated charges.


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The other suspects, Robinson and Grooms, were supposed to be taking care of the dogs for Harris while he is in jail.

Police say they both had an active role in fighting, training, destroying remains, feeding, housing and shipping pit bulls.

Investigators rescued 29 dogs, including 2 puppies, from the property in Aug.

Police say when they raided the property, Robinson showed up with dog food claiming she feeds the dogs once a day only because of her day job with the turnpike commission.

The dogs were found tied down in heavy chains, starving and in bad health on the remote property on Church Street Extension in Nicholson Township, according to investigators.

Three of the dogs were dead in a dug-out pit. 

Dog rescuers told Channel 11 News the dogs were severely underweight and covered in ticks. Many of the dogs had collars embedded in their skin.

Harris gave police a timeline saying the dogs have been there for two years.

Two of the dogs died after being taken to a veterinarian in Uniontown.  One died within 15 minutes of arriving; the other died a few days later of parvovirus. 

11 Investigates confirmed the two puppies found were in a plastic crate with blood inside. The male puppy couldn't open his eyes, had shortness of breath and was barely moving.