Polk County man charged with raising pit bull terriers to fight
Published: Sunday, January 29, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 28, 2006 at 11:49 p.m.
MULBERRY - Authorities uncovered a lucrative dogfighting network and found 139 starved and abused pit bull terriers who were bred to fight each other, sheriff's officials said.
Hewitt Grant, who bred the dogs, was arrested Thursday and charged with maintaining and owning equipment and dogs for baiting and fighting, and 73 counts of animal cruelty, Polk County deputies said.
Grant, 38, was being held on $52,000 bail. It was not known if he had an attorney, and there was no published telephone listing for a Hewitt Grant in Polk County.
Deputies Thursday raided a mobile home, uncovering horrific conditions where dogs lacked food, water and shelter and were attached to heavy chains. Many of the dogs were missing ears and fur, one was missing a nose.
Deputies also found "cat mills," where smaller animals are caged, just outside of a dog's reach. Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said these devices train the dogs to be more aggressive, along with the massive chains used to tie the dogs to posts.
"These dogs were bred and born and raised to kill," Judd said.
Nearly 50 of the dogs were euthanized and the rest were brought to an animal shelter, Judd said.
The sheriff's office received calls from people looking to adopt the dogs, but the sheriff said authorities don't usually allow the public to adopt dogs trained to fight.
Fernando Casadevall, a Miami-Dade County officer who only investigates pit bull cases, said dogfighting is common in Florida and the Southeast, where gamblers bet up to $10,000 on matches and puppies with a particularly vicious bloodline can fetch $3,000 on the underground market.
"If used for fighting, the best thing is for them to be humanely euthanized," Casadevall said.
Information from: Orlando Sentinel, http://www.orlandosentinel.com
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