A Dorchester man who was known as “Dr. Dog” in dogfighting circles and banned by the city from keeping dogs in the 1990s is facing a new charge of keeping animals for fighting.
Authorities found 10 pit bulls Monday at the home of Javier Ruperto, 35, after an anonymous caller claimed dogfighting was happening there, according to a report filed in Dorchester District Court. The caller also said several injured dogs were living in the basement.
Officers found two pit bulls chained to the Toledo Terrace house at about 10 p.m. — when the temperature was 16 degrees, the report said.
In conversations with police, Ruperto told officers he had two dogs, but changed his story several times. At one point, he said he had eight dogs and repeatedly refused to let officers into his home, the report said.
Ruperto was arrested after he allegedly approached Officer Luis Lopez, pushed him away from the front door, and tried to lock it, saying, “You can’t come into my house!”
Police and an animal control officer then went to the basement, where they found seven pit bulls in cages, one chained to the stairs, and two treadmills, the report said.
Treadmills are sometimes used to train fighting dogs, said Suffolk Assistant District Attorney Brian Brodigan.
The dogs in Ruperto’s basement did not appear to be injured. As of Tuesday evening, the pit bulls were still in Ruperto’s home while animal control officers waited for a court order to remove them, said police Sergeant Mike McCarthy .
McCarthy said that there were no signs the dogs were abused when officials checked on them earlier on Tuesday.
“They are well aware of who this guy is and his history with animals. They’re trying to do everything they can,” he said.
Ruperto was banned by the city in 1997 from keeping dogs after he was charged with keeping an illegal kennel of sickly, scarred canines, including some so sick that they had to be euthanized, according to a Boston Globe report.
In 1998, Ruperto was sentenced to eight months in prison on charges of animal cruelty and obstructing an animal inspection, Brodigan said.
In the recent case, Ruperto is charged with keeping animals for fighting, resisting arrest, and assault and battery on a police officer, court records show. Not guilty pleas were entered on Ruperto’s behalf. He was released on $300 bail and ordered to surrender the dogs.
Defense attorney Paul Carrigan described Ruperto as a kennel worker who loves animals.
“He didn’t do anything wrong,” he said.
According to Carrigan, Ruperto trains pit bulls to participate in weight-pulling competitions. He added that the dogs found outside had not been in the cold for long, and were being rotated in and out.