The carcasses of nine fully grown pit bulls were found in a dumpster in Tamaqua early this morning.

Tamaqua Chief of Police Dave Mattson said at least eight of the dogs apparently died within the past 24 hours. The other was so unrecognizable that the sex of the dog couldn't be determined.

The dead animals were found at about 12:30 a.m. by an individual looking through dumpsters in the borough.

The dogs were placed in a dumpster behind the Rite Aid on Center Street.

Mattson has no doubt about the origin of the dogs but said he still has to obtain proof before making an arrest.

"I recognized the dogs by dogs we've seen in a residence before. The police department has a suspect," said Mattson, adding that the investigation is continuing.

The police chief said an individual – his suspect – recently had 13 dogs taken from a residence in Frackville.

The same individual, said Mattson, has homes in Tamaqua, Susquehanna, and Rhode Island. He also maintains a website.

"We're asking for the public's help," said Mattson, urging that anyone with information to contact the Tamaqua Police Department at (570) 668-5000.

He said a state dog officer and the SPCA have been requested to assist him in the investigation and that he is hoping to make an arrest in the case.

The chief said he is frustrated that animal cruelty laws aren't more stringent.

He said in Pennsylvania, animal cruelty is only a misdemeanor until there is a second offense.