Those arrested have since entered pleas of not guilty to a variety of federal charges, including conspiracy to promote and sponsor dogfights and conducting a gambling business.
"These defendants were gambling anywhere from between $1,500 to $200,000 on one dogfight, according to our investigation," said Morris, who is prosecuting the case.
If convicted the defendants face up to 15 years in prison. A trial is scheduled for February.
The government plans to forfeit the rights to the dogs and Morris hopes that permanent custody will go to the organizations that are currently caring for them.
"As much as I would love to parade these horribly scared dogs through the courtroom at trial I don't think any judge is going to let me, so I am not going to need the physical dogs," Morris said.
Healing mental wounds
The once empty ASPCA shelter is now lined with rows upon rows of cages that contain a variety of dogs of all ages. A walk past the cages will prompt some dogs to incessantly bark, others to jump up and down.
The most dramatic reaction is from a black pit bull mix that appears to panic at the sight of a person. His ears stand straight up and he cowers in the corner of his cage as his body trembles.
"Understand that these dogs have experienced nothing but life at the end of a chain," Bershadker explained. "Even a water bowl is new for them ... they are afraid of everything."
To emphasize his point, a sign that reads "I'm FEARFUL, please go slowly" hangs on one dog's cage.
Certified dog trainer Cinder Wilkinson-Kenner moves slowly as she works to gain the trust of an older dog that also has been labeled fearful.
She is on her knees in a pen reserved for training and she has the dog on a leash. In a friendly yet calm and quiet voice, Wilkinson-Kenner repeats the phrase "good girl, good girl" while throwing treats near the animal.
After a few minutes she asks the dog, "Ready to come close?" and she holds out an open hand with a treat in it.
The dog takes the treat and Wilkinson-Kenner gives the dog a break by throwing the next treat away from her to reduce the animal's anxiety from being so close to a human.
The ASPCA is doing all it can to rehabilitate these dogs so they can eventually be given to organizations that will either find them a home as a pet, train them as work dogs, or put them in alternative placements such as a sanctuary.
Maybe one day, the dogs, like 917, can have real names instead of numbers.
"A lot of people have this misperception of fighting dogs being big brutish pit bulls that are killers," said Ehren Melius, the shelter's senior manager, who spends all day with the dogs. "In reality, some of these guys are traumatized from the experience they've been through from lack of socialization, the torture."
While these dogs may have been saved from a life a torture, the ASPCA estimates there are more than 40,000 dogfighters in the United States who are putting hundreds of thousands of animals through the brutal training to become fighting dogs.
"This may be the second largest dogfighting bust in U.S. history, but it's a drop in the bucket," said Bershadker. "This is going on all over the United States across socioeconomic lines, across racial lines, it is prevalent, it is pervasive, it is deep underground."