Dog-fighting, cruelty – 29 dogs seized, Box Springs, GA
Staked to the ground with 3-foot logging chains around their necks, pit bull dogs possibly used for fighting were seized Wednesday from a wooded area in Box Springs, Ga.
“One or two appear to be recently in a fight, with the scars we’ve seen on their faces,” said Phil Gallacher of Norred & Associates, a private corporate security firm that received a tip about the pit bulls.
Major Jeff Sivell, an investigator with the Talbot County Sheriff’s Office, said Antonio Monds, 32, was arrested about 11 a.m. after he arrived in the wooded area. He was charged with dog fighting and cruelty to animals and held in the county jail. The 29 dogs ranged from puppies to full-grown pit bulls.
The scene brought back memories for SPCA executive director Joan Sammond, who received three pit bulls that belonged to NFL quarterback Michael Vick. The former Atlanta Falcons player was convicted in 2007 of conspiracy and running a dog fighting operation. He served 18 months of a 23-month federal prison sentence and recently signed with the Philadelphia Eagles.
“We don’t like to see this, but you know the Michael Vick thing brought awareness to the attention of the public,” Sammond said of dog fighting. “People are now more aware and helpful in tipping us and law enforcement when they see things suspicious. We’ve got a lot of work to do in Georgia. We’ve got a lot of animal abuse with dog fighting.”
The dogs displayed typical behavior of animals kept for fighting, she said. They became aggressive near other dogs but were not violent toward people.
“They may not be suitable to be around other animals but for humans they are fine,” Sammond said. “People get the notion that a pit bull is going to be aggressive toward people and animals, but that is not the case. Humans have to handle these animals. They want them aggressive toward other animals and that is what they train them to do.”
Sivell said officers were on the scene about 7:30 a.m. Wednesday.
The investigation had been under way for four months, Gallacher said. “We offer a reward on information,” he said. “We’ve been doing an investigation here for about four months.”
The dogs were found about 500 feet north of South Howard Road where it runs into Sizemore Road. Dogs were confined by 3-foot chain leashes connected to metal stakes in the ground.
“Water was supplied solely by rain water that’s got algae, dirt and stuff in there,” Gallacher said. “We didn’t find any fresh food. Some didn’t have shelter at all, living strictly on the dirt.”
Miguel Abi-Hassan, director of animal welfare and outreach for the Atlanta Humane Society, said staffers were carefully transferring the animals. “We are fortunate enough that they are happy to be rescued,” he said.
The Humane Society loaded the dogs into a newly equipped trailer that could transport up to 100 animals.
Lois Monds, Antonio Monds’ cousin, said the sheriff served a search warrant at their home Wednesday morning. “Those are not our dogs,” said Lois Monds, who lives in a single-wide mobile home about 700 feet from the wooded area. “Those are not my dogs.”
Lois Monds’ address was on the warrant, but no name was listed. The document stated that a number of pit bulls were found chained in the woods and had no source of food or water. Lois Monds said officers were also looking for drugs.
“I don’t sell drugs,” said Lois Monds, who says she works a 12-hour shift taking care of a disabled person.
Frank Turner, a neighbor, was surprised to learn about possible dog fighting in the area.
“I heard dogs barking over there and there,” Turner said, pointing toward the woods. “You never saw any dog fighting. It’s no big deal. Nobody around here said they seen any dog fighting. ”
After working with Vick’s dogs, Sammond sounded hopeful for the rescued dogs.
“We got three of his dogs,” she said. “One of those dogs was deemed unadoptable and turned out to be the most wonderful pet.”
Oddly enough I was just thinking this morning about dog fighting and how suddenly it seems everybody is talking about it. I had to begrudgingly admit to myself that it is thanks to Michael Vick’s arrest, conviction, time served and subsequent re-acceptance into the NFL that has brought this terrible cruelty into the limelight. Without the notoriety that he has brought to the issue, people wouldn’t be as aware of the prolific nature of dog fighting. It made me curious about just how much of a problem it is in Canada and did some preliminary research on that today. Vick is making us think differently and that’s a good thing.
So when I read this report tonight and SPCA director Sammond mentions Michael Vick as well it seemed like serendipity to me. I’ve decided that dog fighting and those criminals who participate in it will be heavily featured here at TOAC as I’ve adopted it as one of my pet projects. (Pun intended) I will be running some features in the upcoming weeks about the history of dog fighting, the methods used to train dogs to fight as well as other hopefully interesting facts about the crime.
On the flip side of everybody talking about dog fighting these days, I read somewhere this week that those morons who participate it in have gone further underground to conduct the contests even resorting to using tractor trailers while zooming up the highway. So be aware in your neighborhoods for signs of dog fighting. It can be happening anywhere and if you see something suspicious, call the police. As John Walsh of AMW says, “You can make a difference.”