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    DMX Hounded in AZ

    For DMX, 2006 was the Year of the Dog; 2007 is shaping up to be the year of being dogged.

    The rapper and actor, who remains on the lam in New York, could be persona non grata in Arizona after investigators found a stockpile of guns and a dozen "distressed" pit bulls at his home in the Phoenix suburb of Cave Creek.

    The Maricopa County Sheriff's Department raided the property Friday morning and seized the animals, which were then turned over to a shelter.

    DMX, whose real name is Earl Simmons, was not present.

    No charges have been filed, said Sheriff Joe Arpaio. However, detectives would like to question the 36-year-old rapper.

    At an afternoon press conference, Arpaio said his department was tipped off earlier this month to the inhumane conditions at the rapper's home. The dogs were not properly fed or watered in the searing desert heart.

    The department informed the rapper's camp and said the animals would be removed unless their care improved, Arpaio said. Deputies returned Friday and decided to evacuate the dogs.

    As for the cache of guns, Arpaio said investigators confiscated the firearms and were trying to determine if all were legal.

    DMX's lawyer, Murray Richman, said the rapper has been out of the state for several months and was "extremely disturbed" to learn his dogs were being mistreated.

    "We had a caretaker that wasn't taking care, that's what happened,'' Richman told the Associated Press. "He loves dogs—he loves these animals. Those dogs are practically his family.''

    Richman said he was unaware of any problems at the property until contacted by reporters on Friday.

    DMX, who has "Pit Bull" tattooed across his back, has run afoul of the law more than a dozen times over the past decade, on charges ranging from small stuff (speeding, driving with a suspended license) to serious transgressions (crack-smoking, impersonating a federal agent).

    The hardcore hip-hopster faced remarkably similar allegations in 1999, when police raided his home in Teaneck, New Jersey, and discovered enough guns to arm a militia and 13 caged pit bulls. He copped a plea in 2002 to avoid jail time and was ordered to make a series of PSAs urging children to be wary of guns and kind to animals.

    Earlier this month, a New York judge ordered the emcee to fork over a $242,000 judgment to a fashion company for failing to fulfill a deal to promote a canine clothing line.

    He's also wanted on a pair of bench warrants issued in April by a city court in White Plains, New York. The judge is seeking DMX's arrest for skipping a pretrial hearing for two separate driving offenses.

    DMX holds the Billboard record for debuing his first five albums at number one. The streak was snapped when last year's Year of the Dog...Again opened at number two, missing the top slot by about 1,000 copies. His most recent release was the greatest hits compilation The Definition of X: The Pick of the Litter, which hit stores in June.

    He is said to have begun working on his seventh studio effort, but there's no word yet on a street date.

    As an actor, DMX notably starred in the action thrillers Romeo Must Die, Cradle 2 the Grave and Exit Wounds. His most recent role is in the unreleased indie Death Toll, where he costars with Lou Diamond Phillips and plays a character named, yes, Dog.

     

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