COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A foundation has been set up to help offset the costs of caring for and boarding 24 pit bulls that were seized from a dog fighting ring in September.
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said the dogs have received their shots, have been heartworm tested, micro-chipped, and are receiving medicines which protect against heartworm, roundworms, and hookworms, but the rescue effort has become quite expensive.
"They are a challenge, but they are sweet," said Lott. "No, they're not house broken."
"I handled all of them," said a deputy who had been handling the dogs. "None of them acted like they were going to be aggressive toward a person at all."
Richland County deputies broke up the ring on September 8. Deputies responded to 647 Camp Ground Road in reference to a complaint of dogs barking in the woods. Upon arrival, Lott said deputies saw several dogs chained to the ground along a path with evidence of mistreatment.
Stanley Taylor, 23, faces two counts of felony dog fighting, and Jolisa Cole, 20, is charged with knowingly attending a dog fight. Additionally, Santerrio Smith, 23, is charged with two counts of attempted murder.
Lott said deputies also found several people watching two pit bulls fight. Deputies were able to arrest Taylor at the scene, but Lott said Smith and Cole jumped into a vehicle and tried to run over deputies as they sped away from the location.
Deputies later arrested Smith and Cole in a ditch beside the Days Inn on Plumbers Road after receiving information on their whereabouts from a family member.
Lott stated that the investigation continues, and more arrests are forthcoming.
The dogs were awarded to the state during a hearing in magistrate's court and given a preliminary evaluation by a veterinarian. Lott said what happened to the dogs can only be described as sad. "They breed a dog, train a dog, try to have baddest, meanest dog," he said. "That's what it's all about. 'My dog can kill your dog.' That's what it boils down to, 'my dog can kill your dog and I'm gonna bet money that it can happen.'"
One is named Beethoven. Lott said his ear was bitten off in a fight. He believes others had their ears chopped off with scissors. "Just the torture they go through," said Lott. "They use shock treatments, they hang them from trees, all kinds of things. It makes them mean. The dogs aren't born being mean. They train them to be mean."
Deputies found a collar attached to a chain weighing about 30 pounds. Deputies think the reason they were attached to these chains was so their neck would get strong and they would become better fighters.
The dogs will soon be available for fostering. Lott said if anyone is interested in assisting with fostering one or more of the dogs you can contact Pawmetto Lifeline at 803-622-4748 – anyone interested in making a donation should make checks payable to: The Richland County Sheriff's Foundation, 5623 Two Notch Road, Columbia, SC 29202.