Major East Texas Dog Fighting Ring Broken Up - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

01/27/08-Marion County

Major East Texas Dog Fighting Ring Broken Up

A vicious dog fighting ring lands seven people behind bars in Marion County, but for many of the animals the arrests come far too late.  KLTV 7's cameras were there as law enforcement arrested several people in connection to what authorities are calling a major East Texas dog fighting ring.

Around noon, Sunday, Marion County deputies were alerted to a dog fight on a remote piece of property in the 2900 Block of FM 2208.  That's about four miles west of Jefferson.  When deputies got there, they quickly learned they had stumbled upon something much bigger.  The sight of dead and injured dogs was extremely graphic.  Even for experienced officers, it was a sickening sight.

"It's a terrible way to treat an animal," said Marion County Sheriff Bill McKay.  It was a routine call for a sheriff's deputy, Sunday.  He thought he was responding to a domestic dog fight."

"They were coming out toward the cars," said Marion County Sheriff's Deputy Roger Manning.  "They saw me drive up, and I hollered 'halt'.  They turned around and went back down through the woods, and I took off after them."  Manning says he surprised the dog fighting ring.  More than a dozen people fled into the woods and were chased by police.  Back on the property, deputies found a dozen dogs bloodied and with massive wounds from fighting.

"It's bad to see animals in this shape, and the way they train them, the way they keep them is horrible," said McKay.  "They don't feed them.  They make them wear heavy chains to make them mean as they can."  Deputies were able to arrest seven people, including the landowner.

"The landowner was responsible for this," said McKay.  "He was probably heading it up."  More grisly discoveries, however, were made.  After investigators searched the property, they found a grotesque makeshift graveyard for dogs that didn't survive, or were destroyed by their owners.  Investigators say some of the dogs died recently, but they found bones from much earlier deaths.

Deputies confiscated guns, Sunday, a dozen cars were impounded and suspects were caught carrying huge amounts of cash.

"It's sick," said Caroline Wedding of the Marion County Humane Society.  "There is money to be made here by people who fight dogs.  There's sport as some people would call it."  The real victims, authorities say are the dogs with heavy chains holding them down and cruel treatment to make them vicious fighters.

"We have got to stop this," said Wedding.  For the dogs at least the cruel ring of death is over. Now investigators hope to close this twisted sport, down for good.   

The SPCA of Texas took the remaining dogs into custody tonight and will care for them at its facility near Dallas.  The names of those who were arrested have not yet been released.  All the suspects will be arraigned Monday.  Investigators say more arrests are expected.

Bob Hallmark, Reporting.



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