Animals rescued from Collier County dogfighting operation will get new homes

Published: July 30, 2021 3:53 PM EDT
Investigators found nine violently injured dogs, a skinned rabbit, a wounded rooster - and a lot of evidence to build a criminal case against Rafael Jesus Del-Valle-Jomarron. (Credit: CCSO)

Nine dogs and a rooster that were rescued from a dogfighting operation earlier this month by Collier County deputies will get new homes.

The sheriff’s office said Friday a judge awarded custody of the animals to Domestic Animal Services (DAS). The judge’s order also prohibits their previous owner, Rafael Jesus Del-Valle-Jomarron, from owning dogs and chickens. He’ll also have to pay for the housing and care of the animals up until this point.

A final order, however, has not been issued and isn’t expected to be signed by the judge until sometime next week.

“This will ensure these dogs will be safe, properly cared for, and have a future,” said Sheriff Kevin Rambosk.

Del-Valle-Jomarron, 40, was arrested July 9 after a monthlong investigation. He faces four counts of animal cruelty causing cruel death, pain or suffering; one count of animal fighting; and one count of selling, possessing or using equipment for fighting or baiting. He is out on $30,000 bond.

CCSO filed an order with the court earlier this month seeking to legally seize the animals and turn them over to DAS where they have been sheltered, cared for, and medically treated.

At a civil hearing Friday, a judge accepted the CCSO order after hearing testimony from Dr. Rachel Touroo, director of veterinary forensics for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). Touroo testified the dogs didn’t receive a reasonable level of care from Del-Valle-Jomarron.

Detectives said Del-Valle-Jomarron is a convicted felon who operated an organized dogfighting ring at his Golden Gate residence. When detectives found them, the dogs had various injuries and numerous wounds and scarring; some of them had hundreds of wounds and scars. They were malnourished, scared and stressed. The rooster had severe injuries to its chest and back.

DAS Director Darcy Andrade said all the animals are doing well.

“The dogs are doing great and the rooster is completely healed,” Andrade said.

Watch our July 12 report: