A week after 20 dogs were rescued from a Franklin home “like something out of a horror film,” Nasir Azmat, 41, has been arrested and charged with 41 counts of animal fighting and cruelty charges.
“I have a special place in my heart to defend the defenseless,” said Delaware County Sheriff Craig DuMond at this morning’s press conference. “I got to meet some of the beautiful souls of the Franklin, and it’s heartbreaking to see such innocent victims in these horrendous living conditions. And they were horrendous.”

One female pit bull that he saw, he reported, was used for breeding. “She just had this look of horror and abuse, even when you just reached out a hand to her,” he said. “It was awful.”

In all, Azmat was charged with 20 counts of possessing animals with the intent to engage in fighting, one count of owning animal fighting paraphernalia and 20 counts of overdriving, torturing or injuring an animal.

“Although there was no evidence of dog fighting at that location, the injuries and scars, as well as equipment found at the scene, is consistent for training canines for fighting-related activities,” he said.

In addition to the abuse charges, the Town of Franklin also charged him with 19 counts of harboring an unlicensed dog. But despite these charges, DuMond said, new bail reforms meant that Azmat could only be issued appearance tickets.

“Prior to January 1, I can say with 99 percent certainty he would have been held,” he said. “But now he’s running free, doing I don’t know what. But if he doesn’t show for his court appearance, we’ll get a warrant and take one of our dogs to hunt him down.”

At the end of the press conference, DuMond also presented Insinga with a plaque naming her a Sheriff Superstar. But he also credited the people of Franklin who alerted Insinga and the Sheriff’s Department about the dog fighting.

“You are the eyes and ears of the community,” he said. “Innocent animals must rely on you to help out, to rescue them and bring these people to justice. If something looks out of place, it probably is.”

DuMond said that the investigation will continue as they look into where Asmat took the dogs to fight. “We’re working with law enforcement partners across the state into possible locations where the dogs might have been trained for,” he said.

“We will not tolerate animal abuse here,” said Erin Insinga, shelter director, Delaware Valley Humane Society. “The voices of the Franklin 20 will not go unheard.”

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