August 29, 2007
AUGUSTA, Ga.---A national concern makes headlines right here in Augusta as Richmond County deputies stumble across what could be a dogfighting operation.
Nine dogs and a dog-training treadmill were among some of the clues deputies found at some houses on the 1100 block of Kent Street, off Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Deputies have also found a site on Luckey Street where dogfighting may have taken place.
The Richmond County Crime Suppression Team says they "stumbled upon" the situation. They said they were doing routine patrols in the area when they saw three dogs chained outside an abandoned home, with no food and no water. Information from that home led them across the street to 1123 Kent Street, where inside they found drugs and guns. And, outside they also found a tampered power meter, later discovered stolen from two houses down at 1127 Kent Street. That's where officers made the startling discovery behind a black tarp covered fence.
Six more dogs, chained up, all with cuts and scars on their legs, chest, and head consistent with dog fighting.
Inside the home, they found a treadmill consistent with dog training as well as a blood-covered table outside in a shed, such as those used to treat dogs injured in fighting.
"We have come to learn they use these animals as bait animals which is worse in my opinion. " says Lt. Scott Gay with the Sheriff's Office crime suppression unit.
The Kent Street homes are believed to a part of a dog training operation since there no pit or dog fighting arena was found. All nine dogs were removed from the scene by Richmond County Animal Control.
A few hours later, and just six blocks away, officers found what they suspected. A dogfighting pit found behind a Luckey Street home. Five more dogs were found at the scene.
"Among the five, two were females that appeared to have recently given birth but no puppies were found." Says Lt. Gay, which he adds also raises the possibility the property may be a breeding ground as well.
A total of 8 people were arrested at both locations; five from Kent Street and three more from Luckey Street. Lt. Gay says the three found at the Luckey Street home are believed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and are not believed to be involved in the operation.
None of the eight people in custody are charged with animal cruelty at this time. Lt. Gay says the investigation is still ongoing.
Pit bull thefts are common in the area, and Lt. Gay says they have not ruled out the possibility that these dogs may be stolen. The Sheriff's Office and animal control are still working to determine if this is the case. Lt. Gay adds a lot of dogs were recovered in a short period of time and it may take awhile to sort through all of the animals.
Very few dogfighting cases have been prosecuted in Georgia. That's due to the fact that it isn't illegal in Georgia to train dogs to fight, nor is it illegal to attend a dog fight. There is a specific law against allowing a dog to fight for gambling purposes or running such an event. Those involved in dogfighting might also be prosecuted under animal cruelty statutes.
Republican Senator Chip Rogers introduced SB 16, called the Animal Fighting Act, to make Georgia's dogfighting laws tougher. It has passed the Senate more than once but has never passed the House.
If SB 16 was passed it would make it illegal to train a dog for fighting, to buy a dog for fighting, to rent a location for the purpose of dogfighting, to gamble on dogfighting, and to be a spectator at a dogfight.