Detective Mike Peers said they received tips that a French Bulldog was spotted with a man identified as Ronnie Baker.
Baker, 34, was a suspect in a separate burglary at a Manatee County pet store involving six puppies.
When Baker was arrested, he was found with a different French Bulldog that had wounds on its back that were probably a botched attempt to remove the dog’s microchip.
Investigators found out that Baker had taken the dog to an underground “puppy chop shop” run by a man named Bobby Rivera, also known as “Dogman.”
Eight dogs were found living in deplorable conditions on the premises, including one dead dog. Bloody rags and medical instruments were strewn across Rivera’s home, indicating that he was performing illegal dog surgeries.
None of the dogs found had included Bugsy. Further investigations tracked down Bugsy in another home. The dog’s microchip was not removed nor injured.
Police also discovered that Baker’s relative, Quantaviuos Williams, 22, was suspected of another pet burglary in Largo, Florida, involving 12 puppies.
Sheriff Mina stated, ” in our quest to find Bugsy, detectives stumbled into really chilling activities involving these dog trafficking organizations. They had no idea it would lead them down this dark and disturbing road.”
Baker and Williams are charged with robbery armed with a firearm, grand theft, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. They are both in jail in separate counties on other charges. On the other hand, Rivera is charged with aggravated animal cruelty and was found guilty of 11 counts.
Matos was tearfully reunited with Bugsy, saying, “it’s great to have him home. But it looks like everything was meant to be because we got a bunch of other dogs home.”