Knoxville man facing dogfighting charges defends himself

Knoxville man facing dogfighting charges defends himself

A Knoxville man accused of dog fighting says he's innocent. A Knoxville man accused of dog fighting says he's innocent.

6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – A Knoxville man accused of dogfighting says he's innocent.

Charvez Francisco faces dogfighting charges as well as animal cruelty charges in Hawkins County.

Investigators say they stumbled on the possible training operation for dogfighting while they were battling a wildfire near Mooresburg.

Francisco says he has nothing to do with dogfighting. He tells 6 News the charges stemmed from quite the opposite. He says he was rescuing the animals on his farm property and breeding them.

This stems from a lifelong love of animals.

"I just took them to take care of them," said Francisco. "These are dogs I've had for years. Same blood line, some are rescue dogs," he went on to explain.

Authorities say they found 21 dogs in all. One had to be euthanized because of its injuries. The remaining dogs are now at local shelters.

"I don't do any kind of dogfighting at all. This is all about love for dogs," he explained.

"The wounds are consistent to dogfighting. Not every single animal up there did have wounds to it, but a large majority of the animals did have scarring tissue around it," Chief Deputy Tony Allen with the Hamblen County Sheriff's Office said.

"There's only one dog that already had marks. That was an older dog I got from a guy that didn't want her anymore," Francisco said about the wounds investigators say they found on the animals.

Authorities also said the dogs were chained when they found them and may not have been fed or given water regularly. Francisco says that's false. He drove to the property to feed the animals himself everyday or he paid his cousin to do the same.

"The police have made me out to be a bad guy, which I'm not. I love my animals like I love my family," he said.

He says it's a family that's been taken away from him and that's the worst part of this all.

"That's what they've done. They robbed me of my family," he said.

Francisco has hired an attorney, hoping to clear the charges against him.

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