Starke man charged with dogfighting

Anti-drug task force seizes 19 animals; five were euthanized.

This dog was one of 19 seized from a home in Starke where authorities also reportedly found more than a third of a pound of marijuana. A 19-year-old man faces multiple charges.

Bradford County Sheriff's Office
Published: Thursday, January 21, 2010 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 20, 2010 at 11:48 p.m.

An investigation into alleged drug sales in Starke led to the discovery of an apparent handler for fighting dogs.

Luise Enrique Martinez, 19, was arrested Friday on charges of fighting or baiting animals, felony possession of marijuana and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.

He was arrested by members of the Bradford Union Starke Task Force to Eradicate Drugs, known as BUSTED.

Task force member Richard M. Crews of the Starke Police Department said the animals were found while a search warrant was being served at Martinez's home, at 408 Wall St. in Starke.

After finding 176 grams of packaged marijuana in a bedroom, task force members said they found 19 dogs in the back of the home. Crews said the dogs were chained or tied, appeared underfed and bore scars and other signs indicative of dogs that had been used to fight each other.

Task force spokesman Capt. Brad Smith of the Bradford County Sheriff's Office said the dogs were taken to a veterinarian for treatment and evaluation.

"Only the fighting pit-bulls were euthanized at this point due to being overly aggressive/unadoptable," Smith told The Sun in an e-mail. "The others will be adopted out if they are cleared by the vet. Some have heart worms and genetic issues that may need to be euthanized."

Smith provided the following update on the animals: Five bulldogs apparently used for fighting were euthanized; four bulldogs need rehabilitation; a mixed-breed dog that may have been used to bait other dogs needs rehabilitation; two bulldog puppies were placed in foster care and appear adoptable; two small, mixed-breed dogs were considered adoptable; and five small dogs with special needs were still being evaluated.

Martinez posted bond and was released from the jail Sunday to await trial on the charges.

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