MAS at crisis capacity after massive animal abuse seizure; man charged

Published: May. 11, 2023 at 6:17 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A Memphis man faces multiple charges in connection to an alleged cockfighting operation.

Pedro Hernandez, 45, was arrested for over 100 charges of animal cruelty Wednesday.

A neighbor of Hernandez who lives on Dunn Avenue said she was not surprised by the crimes.

“Oh, I saw the birds all the time,” said the anonymous neighbor. “They have so many little chickens, too. I mean, there’s roosters, chicks and chickens. So there’s always a lot, a lot of birds.”

A tip from a neighbor led the Memphis Organized Crime Unit VICE Team to execute a search warrant.

Detectives said inside the home, officers found caged roosters with no food or water that appeared to be near death or injured.

They also found cash, multiple ropes, syringes, and spurs used for cockfighting.

“It don’t surprise me,” said the anonymous neighbor.

Memphis Animal Services (MAS) is currently caring for all 90 birds.

The shelter is now in crisis mode.

The birds add to the 150% capacity the shelter was already facing due to a dog overpopulation.

“We need to get some dogs out of this building, so that our capacity is low enough that our staff has the ability to properly care for this additional 90-animal influx that we weren’t expecting as of 3 o’clock yesterday afternoon,” said Alexis Pugh, MAS director.

MAS said the birds are on a temporary hold for testing.

Right now, the public can help by fostering and adopting dogs and puppies from the shelter.

“It feels like we’re a broken record sometimes. Help, adopt, foster, adopt, foster... gosh do we need that help today,” said Pugh.

According to Memphis police, Hernandez is charged with 15 counts of aggravated cruelty to animals, animal fighting, and 83 counts of cruelty to animals.

He was released on his own recognizance Thursday and is due in court Friday.

Pedro Hernandez, 45
Pedro Hernandez, 45(Shelby County Sheriff's Office)

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