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100 pit bulls ‘tortured’: Inside the takedown of alleged N.J. dogfighting ring

A years-long probe turned into “the largest seizure and takedown of a dogfighting ring in the history of the state of New Jersey,”


Court documents allege a South Jersey dogfighting ring advertised itself as a legitimate breeder while abusing the animals. Pictured inset is a promotion for the “Stud of the Week” from the group’s website, along with charging documents against the owner.


By S.P. Sullivan

MAURICE RIVER TOWNSHIP, N.J. — It was raining buckets before dawn when investigators descended Wednesday on the ramshackle compound of trailers and kennels in South Jersey, where authorities say pit bulls were bred to “fight to their deaths.”

They found more than a hundred dogs, many wounded and shivering in the cold who nonetheless greeted police and veterinarians “with wagging tails,” state Attorney General Matthew Platkin told reporters at a Friday news conference.

“What other hell these dogs endured, I honestly don’t even dare to imagine,” Platkin said, adding they had been “tortured and abused.”

Now, alleged ringleader Bruce “Hollywood” Low, Jr., and seven others face accusations of racketeering, organized crime, animal cruelty and other charges following a years-long probe launched in December 2021 when state authorities first received complaints of dogfighting at the compound in rural Cumberland County.

The inquiry turned into “the largest seizure and takedown of a dogfighting ring in the history of the state of New Jersey,” according to Col. Patrick Callahan, the head of the State Police.

Low, age 44, and his attorney, former Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon Tyner, did not return phone calls and emails seeking comment on the accusations. Attorneys for the other defendants could not be reached.

In court records and other documents made public this week, state authorities described a sophisticated network of dog breeders, trainers and spectators who ran a brutal gambling operation rooted in animal cruelty. Pit bulls were allegedly dragged on leashes by vehicles, forced to fight each other for sport and dumped in a pit on the property when they succumbed to injuries.

For Low, authorities claim, such abuse was a profitable family business.

“The pedigree of his fighting dogs is well-known and highly sought after in the dogfighting world,” Dominick Quartuccio, a State Police detective, wrote in a sworn statement, adding that “Low, Jr. generated a significant amount of income from the dogfighting.”

Authorities charged Low’s mother and business partner Terri A. Low , 67; his son, Bryce J. Low , 20; and his son-in-law, Roosevelt Hart IV, 29, on a range of offenses including dogfighting, racketeering and money laundering.

Also charged were:

  • Coy Glenn Dickenson, 58, originally of Texas, a “world-renowned game dog trainer.”
  • Travis J. Garron , 38, of Port Elizabeth, a trainer/handler
  • Mark A. Runkle, 42, of Maurice River, a handler
  • William McClinton, 68, of Maurice River, a breeder

Authorities say Low and his co-conspirators “discussed dogfighting on Facebook” and traded videos of fights in private messaging groups later captured by police through a data warrant. They allege on multiple occasions, Dickenson was seen tethering dogs to an ATV and forcing them to run around the compound for long periods of time as part of their conditioning.
Aerial footage captured by showed investigators digging pits at the compound, and authorities later said they found the remains of at least two dogs.

The rest of the dogs are safe now, under the care of the national Humane Society , an animal welfare group, and are receiving treatment at an “undisclosed location,” officials said. The exact number of rescued animals was unclear — court records say 103 dogs were seized, while the Humane Society estimated it was “more than 120.”

The group said the dogs were undergoing x-rays and medical care and will eventually be placed in new homes.

“Despite the fact that it was pouring down rain, and many of the dogs were visibly shivering in the weather, they still came out of their shelters to come and greet us when we were coming up to remove them from the kennels,” Adam Parascandola , one of the leaders of the rescue team, said Friday.

“That just speaks so strongly to the bond between dogs and people and, you know, we need to honor that bond.”

The compound, located on State Route 49 in Maurice River Township, is home to two businesses: Royal Bull Kennels, or RBK, and the Kisdir Group, a roofing contractor that “conducts legitimate business but also is used to launder criminal proceeds” for the dogfighting operation, charging documents alleged.

Fighting dogs, big business

RBK specializes in breeding and training American Pit Bull Terriers, the official name of the breed commonly known as pit bulls.

Pit bulls were once considered among the most dangerous dog breeds, often associated with junkyards, drug houses and dog fights. Over the decades, they’ve earned a softer image as the descendants of guard dogs began turning up in shelters and became common household pets.

But their reputation persists among enthusiasts of dogfighting, which is illegal in all 50 states but flourishes in underground gambling operations often linked to organized crime.

On its website, RBK takes pains to say everything about its operations is above board.

“We do not break any laws!” reads a disclaimer.

“All of our dogs are used in legal activities including but not limited to conformation, weight pull, obedience, treadmill racing, and other non-illegal activities,” it later says. “We do not own any dog that was knowingly used in any illegal activities before or after they were in our possession. We do not condone the use of any dogs in any illegal activities whatsoever.”

Charging documents paint a contrasting image.

A search warrant turned up “a large amount of dogfighting paraphernalia on the compound,” court documents say, and investigators found “suspected blood” on a mural in an office and knock-down wooden walls “used to construct the box/pit used for dog fights.”

On its website, RBK says they “provide the very best care and living conditions money can buy.”

“None of our dogs are on chains,” the site says. “They all live indoors in a climate-controlled atmosphere away from the nasty elements of Mother Nature.”

But Quartuccio, the State Police detective, wrote in a sworn statement that one of the trainers, Dickenson, kept “dogs chained in the yard, living in barrels, and dogs in kennels around his trailer on the compound.”

“During the investigation, surveillance observed Coy running dogs attached to an (all-terrain vehicle) on trails on the compound to condition them for fights,” the cop wrote.

The company claims to have worked with a Chinese biotechnology lab and “cloned” several of their dogs. It also offers puppies and dogs for sale, charging as much as $4,000 for “pure pups.”

That business started tumbling down in February when Low began corresponding with a potential customer who turned out to be an undercover detective pretending to be interested in buying a dog.

Low told the undercover he held 61 “concerts” — a euphemism for dogfights, authorities claim — last year alone, describing one such event in detail. A police affidavit describes him as “one of the top 5 dogfighters/breeders in the country.”

Low previously served a federal sentence after pleading guilty to drug and weapons charges nearly two decades ago, in 2006, court records show.

Authorities said at the time that he ran an extensive drug operation out of an underground bunker on the compound, bringing Low and both his parents, who owned the property, up on drug charges.

They seized guns and more than 15,000 rounds of ammunition, along with 38 pit bulls, an alligator, and a parakeet, according to media accounts at the time.

Authorities returned there this week, where over two days, swarms of investigators and animal welfare experts catalogued the contents of the compound and carted off dogs to receive care. Drones and helicopters, drawn by the flurry of law enforcement activity, captured rescuers cradling the animals in their arms.

Platkin, the attorney general, declined to discuss specifics of the inquiry, saying “this very much remains an ongoing investigation.”

“If anybody has any leads, we encourage you to please come forward,” he said.

Officials at the press conference spoke in sometimes emotional terms about the alleged cruelty at the compound, comparing their own canine companions to the dogs rescued in Maurice River this week.

Platkin invoked his dog, a goldendoodle named Toby, “the first family member I see every morning” who always “brings a smile to my face.”

“It is our responsibility in law enforcement to protect the most vulnerable of our society, not merely for their sake — but for ours, as well,” he said.

Callahan, the State Police colonel, said the treatment of the animals was difficult to bear.

“That’s not an easy search warrant to execute,” he said. “And to see those dogs, coming from a pouring rain status into a warm place, does my heart well.”


Staff writers Matt Gray and Anthony G. Attrino contributed to this report.

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