The NFL has had plenty of bad headlines this week, and the last thing it needed was reports that a Philadelphia Eagles player had his dogs seized from a kennel in Wisconsin that is being suspected in a dog fighting operation – even though there is no preliminary indication the player had any knowledge the animals were being mistreated.
The Philadelphia Inquirer and Eau Claire Leader-Telegram reported that a pit bull and her seven puppies that belong to Eagles running back Bryce Brown were among the animals seized in a suspected dog fighting operation in Wisconsin. A judge ordered Friday that Brown's dogs be returned to him, the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram said, and Brown's lawyer argued he is a victim in the case. There were 27 dogs seized, and the other 19 remain in custody of the Eau Claire County Humane Association.
The reports say Brown sent his pit bull Eilis to Northland Pits in February to be bred. Bekah Weitz, the humane officer for the Eau Claire County Humane Association, said during a hearing Friday that she was concerned the animals at Northland Pits were being trained for fighting, the Leader-Telegram said. Weitz said she saw scarring on seven animals when the dogs were seized. There is no indication in any media report that Brown sent the dogs to be trained for fighting.
Brown, of course, is a teammate of Michael Vick, whose participation in a dog fighting operation led to him going to jail and was one of the NFL's worst off-field stories in many years.
According to the Inquirer, Brown returned Eilis to Northland Pits after sending her to be bred in February so the kennel could help give birth to the puppies and wean them. Brown knew little about birthing and caring for nursing puppies, an affidavit said. The dogs were seized on May 21.
Brown didn't appear in court on Friday, but the Leader-Telegram said his lawyer referred to Brown as a victim. Joseph Sudbrink, operator of Northland Pits, was arrested Friday on preliminary charges of mistreating animals and operating as a dog breeder without a license, the Leader-Telegram said, and a criminal investigation is ongoing.
The Inquirer said Brown and his wife are often seen walking their two dogs in their neighborhood in Philadelphia. Brown's lawyer brought a picture to court of Brown hugging his wife, and his wife hugging Eilis.
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