By Chris Conte

ASHLAND CITY, Tenn.- Animal rescue investigators say it is one of the most disturbing and largest alleged dog fighting operations they have ever discovered in the state of Tennessee.

Sixty-five dogs were found chained up, emaciated and abused behind a house on Buckeye Road in Ashland City on Thanksgiving. The dogs were found by accident after fire fighters were called to extinguish a brush fire, the same fire that nearly killed the dogs, in a way, also saved them.

“It’s just unbelievable that these dogs are even alive. This has been going on for probably decades,” explained Scotlund Haisley with the Animal Rescue Corps.

The organization spent the entire day Saturday cutting the dogs from chains and placing them in crates so they could be moved to a warehouse in Lebanon where each one will be evaluated and nursed back to health.

“It’s a living hell. Absolutely horrendous conditions, I mean emaciated pit bulls, infected, old infected wounds. Tons of scaring, broken bones, you name it. This is one of the worst pit bull fighting cases I have ever seen,” Haisley added.

Investigators haven’t charged anyone yet, but federal officials were in Ashland City on Saturday because dog fighting is considered a federal felony. The owner of the home where the dogs were found told officials he rents out the house and wasn’t aware the dog were being held there.

“They had no access to food or water, some of them had shelters others didn’t’,” said Haisley.

Officials hope to be able to adopt out the dogs in the coming weeks but say they first need to make sure each one is healthy.