Dog fighting exposed

Published 12:06 am Friday, September 30, 2011

Submitted photo One of five adult pit bulls found on Lotus Drive shows scars from dogfights. A portion of his upper lip is missing, exposing his right canine tooth.

NATCHEZ — Authorities responding to an anonymous tip discovered five emaciated, wounded fighting dogs in the LaGrange Subdivision Monday night.

One man has been charged and deputies are searching for another.

Adams County Sheriff Chuck Mayfield said Cornelius Dominque Baldwin, 26, 2002 Lotus Drive, was charged Tuesday after deputies found enough evidence at the scene to link Baldwin to the fight.

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He said a warrant is out for the arrest of Lewis Jackson, who resides at Holiday Apartments.

Mayfield said Baldwin is a convicted sex offender who was convicted in Georgia after a 2002 arrest for assault with the intent to rape.

Mayfield said the dogfight was completed when deputies arrived on the scene to find six pit bulls and dog-fighting paraphernalia, including a bloody break stick that is used to pry the dogs apart during the fight and medicine used to treat wounds.

Mayfield said representatives from the Natchez-Adams County Humane Society came out to the scene and took the five adult dogs and one puppy into their custody. He said empty chains and other evidence indicate there was at least one more dog at the fight, for which they have not accounted.

Barbara Platte, the humane society president, said the dogs had fresh puncture wounds and gashes when she, Nan Garrison and Kathy Fitch arrived to pick up the dogs. She said there was also visible scarring indicating the dogs had been previously been fought.

Platte said one of the dogs was visibly afraid, and one was still acting aggressive toward the other animals. She said none of the dogs acted aggressive toward people. She also said the puppy had not been part of the fighting.

Platte said the dogs cannot be placed up for adoption, and the Mississippi dog fighting statute requires them to be euthanized. She said it is ultimately up to the judge what happens to the dogs. She said the humane society is looking into the possibility of dogs that are victims of dog fighting being rehabilitated.

The dogs are now being treated and cared for at Natchez Veterinary Clinic.

Kim King, a veterinary technician at the clinic, said three of the dogs are under medical care and had fresh wounds and open, infected wounds when they were brought in.

She said two of the dogs’ faces were particularly bad. She said the dogs have worms, rickets, fleas, skin problems and are emaciated. She said the dogs are being treated with antibiotics the humane society purchased.

King said the dogs have to be separated because they are animal-aggressive. She said they are very loving toward people.

“The little puppy, we’ve named her Lily,” King said. “I just pick her up and tote her around the office, she is so sweet.”

King said the puppy might escape euthanization because it has not been exposed to fighting. She said of the four or five dogs in the last group of dog fighting pit bulls the clinic housed, two escaped euthanization. She said those dogs were pit bull mixes.

King said she has four pit bulls of her own at home.

“I’ve had them for 20 years,” she said. “I’ve raised them around my children. They can be the most loyal and loving family dog, if there’s a responsible owner.”

Mayfield said his office has been investigating dog fighting in the LaGrange Subdivision area for several months. He said the investigation is ongoing. He said there have been 10-12 arrests for animal cruelty this year alone, some of which were related to dog fighting.

“It’s terrible the suffering those animals go through,” Mayfield said. “Anyone who participates in that kind of activity has neither heart nor soul, in my opinion.”

Mayfield said illegal gambling and illegal drug use are usually associated with dog fighting. He said he wanted to thank the person who called in the anonymous tip.

“It really shows someone is interested in cleaning their community up,” he said.

Baldwin is facing a $5,000 fine and one year in jail.

“He’ll probably just get a slap on the wrist,” King said.

“And these dogs are paying for his sins.”