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Investigators search for possible dog fighting
Aug 09, 2004 12:00 am
Investigators are "trying to substantiate" claims that a roving ring of dog fighters are moving the bloody, illicit sport from spot to spot within the city, authorities say.
"Everybody is getting information that some kind of ring is moving to different locations," Lebanon Police Chief Scott Bowen said Thursday. "Our investigators are working on it, and they've received some preliminary information about a couple of areas where it may be happening."
Authorities launched an investigation into a possible dog fight earlier this week based on an anonymous call and the discovery of a badly wounded pit bull terrier – the favored breed among dog fighters – in the Upton Heights housing project.
Bowen said Thursday the injured animal was adopted by a member of the Humane Association of Wilson County.
"At least one positive has come out of all this," Bowen remarked. "The dog is going to get the kind of medical treatment it needs, and it's going to be safe and well cared for, so at least that part of it has ended positively."
Bowen said police detectives and humane association officials have been contacted about the alleged floating dog fights, but officers have not yet confirmed the claim.
"Nothing is solid as far as our officers being able to substantiate anything yet, but everybody is getting information about the same thing, the humane association and our officers," the police chief said.
Bowen said if the information is confirmed, he feels police will be well positioned to halt the illegal fights, which usually end with the death of a dog and some say frequently attracts off-the-book gamblers.
"They're supposedly doing it late at night, and it's the type of activity that usually generates a lot of noise," the police chief said. "It's something that we feel like we would have a very good chance of putting an end to if people will go ahead and call us if they notice any type of suspicious activity."
Last year officers broke up a dog fight in progress at a Burford Road home, citing some 30 spectators and arresting the owner of the site in the first such raid locally in 20 years.
Authorities said they found all the hallmarks – with the exception of gambling – of a well-organized dog-fighting operation, including intravenous veterinary drugs and equipment for training and weighing the dogs.
Authorities also found the remains of two dead dogs and at least one injured pit bull.
Site owner Gordie Graves Jr. is seeking pretrial diversion from animal cruelty charges, but has yet to make just over $900 in court-ordered restitution in the case that must be paid before diversion is granted. Judge John Wootten Jr. recently scheduled a September hearing for Graves over the restitution.
Graves' motion for pretrial diversion drew a strong written response from Assistant District Attorney General Bobby Hibbett. In a court filing, Hibbett said state law left the DA's office with no choice in the issue, though he said prosecutors would have preferred to see Graves plead guilty as charged.
Senior Staff Writer Brooks Franklin can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 14 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.