RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A man pleaded guilty Wednesday to participating in a dogfighting operation in South Richmond. 

Carlton Hardy, 52, was arrested last February after authorities seized more than a dozen dogs from his home in the 1800 block of Ingram Avenue near Richmond’s Manchester neighborhood. 

In court Wednesday, Hardy pleaded guilty to five counts of animal fighting and seven counts of animal cruelty. 

According to evidence presented in court, investigators found dogfighting paraphernalia, scarred dogs, wound dressings and other items associated with dogfighting on Hardy’s property. Authorities seized 13 dogs that were living in deplorable conditions and had injuries due to neglect.

Forensic examination of Hardy’s phone also found text messages, photos and videos related to dogfighting, according to a release from Attorney General Mark Herring’s Office.

Hardy’s plea followed a prosecution that was executed by Herring’s office and the AG’s first-in-the-nation ‘Animal Law Unit,’ which was created in 2015 to serve as a training and prosecution resource for state agencies, investigators, and Commonwealth’s Attorneys around the state dealing with matters involving animal fighting, cruelty, and welfare.

“Illegal animal fighting is closely tied to illegal gambling, drug and alcohol crimes, and violence against animals has been shown to be linked to violence towards other people,” Herring’s office said in a release. “To date the unit has handled more than 936 matters, to include trainings, prosecutions, and consultations.”

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