New Times Article Helps Free 46 Trapped Pit Bulls

Terrence McCoy

Turns out, it was even worse than we'd thought.

Reno Yohai, a five-time felon and child molester, didn't in fact have 34 pit bulls trapped inside his West Park home, on the border of Miami-Dade and Broward counties, as New Times reported two weeks ago.

He had 46.

Inside a darkened house more cave than home, Yohai had stuffed pit bulls into cages everywhere: in the hallways, bedrooms, living room, and plopped in the front and back yards.

Pit bull activists from the Miami Coalition Against Breed Specific Legislation say that last week, they went to Yohai's home, where he handed over all of his dogs for adoption. The group rescued not only the trapped pit bulls but also neighbors, who for years have shared a block of suburbia with perhaps South Florida's worst dog owner. The tears were almost immediate. None of the rescuers could believe the state of the home, fetid and baking in the afternoon sun.

"We've all rescued animals, but this was the worst house we'd ever seen," explained Dahlia Canes, director of the dog group. "Everyone was stunned. No one could hold their tears back; it was just too inhumane. I almost vomited; the stench was too much."

Yohai, who got out of prison in the early aughts after serving seven years on two counts of sexual battery charges of a minor, moved to West Park sometime in 2007 and almost immediately starting collecting pit bulls.

"I live in service of the breed," he told New Times on a recent afternoon while stroking a hairless pit bull on his lap. "Everything I do, I do for the breed."

And this was exactly what he said to rescuers when they rushed his home. He was saving the dogs, he told Canes and the others, not hoarding them.

Nice try, buck.

For years, Yohai, mustached and slight, had similarly justified trapping so many dogs at his squalid hovel by saying it beat euthanization at the local animal control.

Animal rescuers found adopters for all of the pit bulls except eight, who now live at Broward's Animal Care and Regulation awaiting caretakers. Most of the dogs exhibited bad skin conditions and urinary tract infections from drinking out of moldy water bowls and consuming raw chicken meat and bones as sustenance.

"And that's just the physical trauma," Canes said. "There's also emotional trauma in these dogs. They were tethered, living in crates in their own feces."

But now, for the first time in years, they're free.

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