GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — Fifteen dogs were removed from a home in Guilford County in connection to an alleged dogfighting operation, according to the Guilford County Sheriff’s Office.

“We’re going to shut it down locally. And hopefully, we get it shut down throughout the state,” said Guilford County Sheriff Danny Rogers.

Deputies say the owner of the home, 51-year-old Toriano Marcellus Cave, was arrested and charged with one felony count of allegedly owning and/or possessing a dog with the intent that the dog be used in the fighting of that dog with another dog or with another animal.

Of the fifteen dogs seized, three of them were adult males, three were adult females and nine were recently born females.

Three years of animal neglect calls launched the GCSO investigation. Some of the complaints ranged from animal cruelty to hearing someone choking dogs and reportedly making threats to kill the dogs.

FOX8 first reported the problems on Penny Road in May. On Wednesday, deputies and officials with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals spent hours in the area removing dogs from kennels.

Rogers says people in the community tipped them off to the problem.

“We’ve had complaints on this specific residence for a while,” Rogers said.

A six-month investigation into dogs living at a home on Penny Road prompted this response before 10 a.m. on Wednesday.

“When the dogs continue to become a nuisance to the community and neighbors begin to start complaining, then we have to look into it,” Rogers said.

Investigators with the GCSO, ASPCA officials and federal agents found 15 dogs and puppies in the backyard. 

“The breed of dogs that we had here is pit bulls…identified as fighting dogs as well as identified as being bred to be passed on to other people to raise them for fighting,” Rogers said.

The pit bulls were in kennels, and some were tethered. 

“You’re not supposed to have a dog on a chain,” Rogers said.  

The owner of the dogs told FOX8 in May that he believed the shelter and condition the animals are in is adequate and declined an on-camera interview.

“We’re trying to make sure we’re coming a bit closer and shutting it down,” Rogers said.

Investigators took pictures of the dogs, gave them medical attention and moved them into crates. Rogers says six more people could be tied to this investigation.

“About 15 dogs altogether. So probably by the time we get done with the investigation, it can be 20 plus,” Rogers said.

The ASPCA tells us the dogs are at one of their emergency shelters getting medical and behavioral evaluations until the court decides their future home.

The investigation is ongoing.

Anyone with information concerning this matter is asked to please contact Detective Weavil at (336) 641-5988 or contact Guilford County Crime Stoppers at (336) 373-1000.