Sumter County officials investigating dog fighting operation

Sumter County officials investigating dog fighting operation

SUMTER COUNTY, S.C. (WIS) - Investigators with the Sumter County Sheriff's Office are continuing to build a case against an apparent dog-fighting operation that was discovered on June 13, 2019.

Alva Ridgeway, 38, faces a total of 57 charges after 27 dogs, some malnourished and injured, were found in a wooded area behind his house. Investigators also seized equipment consistent with dog fighting and training during the execution of a search warrant.

Ridgeway’s charges include:

  • 27 counts of animal fighting and baiting
  • 24 counts of misdemeanor ill-treatment of animals
  • 3 counts of felony ill treatment of animals
  • Facilitating animal fighting and baiting
  • Possession of a firearm by a violent felon
  • Possession of a stolen vehicle valued at more than $10,000

Ridgeway also faces 21 ordinance violations regarding Sumter County’s tethering law. The ordinance states that chains used to tether dogs cannot be heavier than a 2 gauge chain and must be at least 15 feet in length. Some of the chains used to tether dogs on Ridgeway’s property were 6 feet in length and were larger than a 2-gauge link.

A day after the 27 dogs were relocated to Sumter County Animal Control, a team from Hudson Veterinarian Hospital examined the dogs and confirmed that the scars and wounds on the animals were caused by dogs.

One dog was euthanized on Tuesday because of a severe leg injury and subsequent infection. Two other dogs are in severe condition: one because of an infection from untreated facial wounds and another because of infection from repeated breeding.

Other dogs are being treated for flea infestations, infections and malnutrition.

Part of the dogs’ rehabilitation will include evaluations from an outside organization to determine if the animals can be adopted.

While some of the dogs are receptive to human interaction, they could become aggressive if triggered by a specific movement, other animals or objects that resemble equipment used for fighting and training.

“We certainly want to save as many dogs as we can but we also want to protect the public should some of these dogs be too aggressive to take home,” Sheriff Anthony Dennis said. “We appreciate the community’s encouragement so far and the offers to foster or adopt these dogs.”

The Sheriff said he hopes this situation will work out so that most of the dogs can go to a good home.

Though the rehabilitation process may be lengthy, animal control could use immediate help in this effort via donations.

The organization is accepting:

  • Clorox Bleach
  • Chicken, rice and vegetable Pedigree dog food
  • Pedigree choice cuts and canned food
  • Pedigree canned and dry puppy food
  • Milk-Bone snack treats
  • PetLack milk powder for puppies
  • Adams flea and tick spray
  • Alpha Tech Pet KennelSol
  • Germicidal cleaner and disinfectant
  • Bounty paper towels
  • Original scent Lysol spray
  • Original Dawn dish detergent
  • Potty pads

Ridgeway’s bond was set at $137,000 during a hearing at Sumter County Sheriff’s Office Detention Center on Tuesday. He remains in custody, as of Wednesday afternoon.

Alva Ridgeway faces 135 years in prison if he is convicted on all counts of animal fighting and baiting and given the maximum sentence for each charge. He also faces a maximum of $135,000 in fines for those same charges.

For more information regarding donations, call Sumter County Animal Shelter at (803) 774-3232.

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