GASTONIA, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – Two people have been arrested in connection to a dog fighting investigation in Gastonia, according to the Gaston County Police Department.

Henrique Durant has been charged with 15 counts of felony dog fighting and 15 counts of cruelty to animals. He was given a $150,000 secured bond.

Ukema Miller is arrested for one count of misdemeanor animal cruelty and given a $5,000 secured bond.

Fourteen dogs were rescued in a suspected dog fighting ring in downtown Gastonia on Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2023, officials said.

A warrant was served around 6:30 a.m. at a residential location on the 940 block of East 6th Avenue near downtown Gastonia, where the dogs were saved.

“It’s always haunting… seeing what the dogs have had to endure and thinking about how they’ve suffered,” said Jessica Johnson, senior director of the Humane Society of the United States’ animal rescue team.

Neighbors told Queen City News (QCN) that authorities had been asking about the property before the bust. Still, many were unaware of what was happening on the property because of a high fence in the backyard.

QCN showed the backyard pictures to neighbors, who were shocked by what was happening.

“We are grateful to the Gaston County Police Department for intervening on behalf of these dogs,” Johnson continued. “No animal deserves to suffer the way these dogs have, but this is the last day they will have to live like this.”

In a release, the Humane Society of the United States said the dogs showed signs indicating they were being used for dog fighting. Dog fighting paraphernalia was also seized.

Officials say the investigation is still open. Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call Detective Brienza at 704-866-3320. You can also call Crime Stoppers at 704-861-8000.

“The Gaston County police are grateful for the assistance and partnership with the HSUS in our ongoing commitment to ending this type of animal cruelty,” said Capt. Kyle Yancey.