12 pit bulls rescued; arena, noose taken|[11/12/07]

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 12, 2007

Twelve pit bull terriers were seized Sunday from a Warren County property that has been under surveillance on suspicion of dogfighting for more than a year, Sheriff Martin Pace said.

The dogs were taken from the 8500 block of Mississippi 27, a site stumbled upon Sunday morning by two game wardens with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks who were conducting routine hunting checks. The game wardens notified the Warren County Sheriff’s Department, Pace said.

By this morning, no arrests had been made, but Pace said the investigation was continuing and arrests were expected.

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At the property, near the Hinds County line, deputies and Vicksburg-Warren County Humane Society President Georgia Lynn found 10 adult dogs and two puppies, all tied to trees or stakes with log chains. They had no water, no food and no shelter. A 16-by-16-foot pen, believed used as a dogfighting arena, had the markings of previous dog fights.

“We have been receiving complaints of suspected dogfighting in that area for more than a year,” Pace said. “But no real evidence had been found until now.”

No one was at the property at the time of the seizure.

Lynn said three of the pit bulls seized at the property had “definitely” been used in fights or as bait dogs, with one of the dogs showing severe scarring. All of the dogs, she said, showed signs of serious neglect.

“It was an absolutely pitiful site,” Lynn said. “But thankfully, these dogs now have food, water and shelter.”

Four of the dogs were taken to the Humane Society, two were taken to Animal Medical Clinic and six went to Vicksburg Animal Hospital. All are receiving medical attention, Lynn said. Lynn also noted the pit bulls are being evaluated on their temperaments in order to determine their possibilities of adoption.

Also seized at the property was a device for jaw-strengthening. Lynn described the device as a noose, which is wrapped around a dog’s head while it is suspended in the air and biting a decoy. If the dog lets go of the decoy, the noose tightens and hangs the dog.

The breakup of the dogfighting enterprise comes one month after law enforcement agents convened at the Warren County Courthouse for seminars about investigating dogfighting and prosecuting those involved.

The only felony dogfighting conviction recorded in Warren County is that of Jon Brown, arrested in 2004 for training dogs for fights. In that case, Warren County deputies seized nine pit bull terriers and equipment, including treadmills and neck chains.

Brown pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years under supervision of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. The sentence was suspended for five years. Brown was ordered to pay $4,085 in restitution, including $1,000 to the local humane society. He was also restricted from owning any dogs during his five years of probation.