04/14/10 — Duplin officials capture dogfight suspect

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Duplin officials capture dogfight suspect

By Nelson Bland
Published in News on April 14, 2010 1:46 PM

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Harry Lewis Hargrove

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Authorities interview witnesses and collect evidence at the scene of a dog-fighting raid on Buck Hill Road in Duplin County about 12 miles southeast of Mount Olive on Tuesday. Officers confiscated 33 pit bulls and reported a number dead dogs on the property. The Humane Society took the surviving animals.

MOUNT OLIVE -- A Mount Olive man was arrested on felony dog-fighting charges Tuesday morning after Duplin County sheriff's deputies raided a dog-fighting operation on Buck Hill Road just off Tram Road, about 12 miles southeast of Mount Olive.

Duplin Sheriff Blake Wallace announced at a news conference at the site that the suspect, Harry Lewis Hargrove, 76, of 306 Buck Hill Road, was charged with engaging in fighting dogs and possession of fighting dogs.

Additional charges were expected as the investigation continued, Wallace said.

The property on which the dog-fighting facility was located is owned by Hargrove, who lives in a mobile home on the property, Wallace said. The dog pen was located up a dirt path about the length of a football field off the road in a wooded area.

Wallace said the raid and arrest were part of an ongoing investigation that started about a month ago.

"Upon coming onto the property this morning, we found Mr. Hargrove here and 33 pit bills that he was in possession of that had been bred and maintained for the purpose of dog fighting," Wallace said.

Some dogs had old wounds and some dead dogs were found in the area, Wallace said. He said he did not know the exact number of dead dogs since the investigation was continuing.

Hargrove had been charged in the past with dog fighting, gambling and animal cruelty in the state of Georgia, Wallace said.

"Mr. Hargrove is originally from this area, but he moved away for some time, and in recent years he has come back here," Wallace said. "Mr. Hargrove has been involved in dog fighting for an extended period of time and the dog fighting has taken place at several locations across eastern North Carolina and the southeastern United States."

Wallace said the sheriff's office contacted the Humane Society in Atlanta and the organization sent special trucks with cages for the dogs. He said the organization will care for the dogs, which might be put up for adoption, but he didn't know yet exactly where the dogs would be taken.

The Humane Society, Wilson and Greene counties sheriffs' officers, Greene County and Duplin County Animal Control officers, Norred and Associates, a private investigative and security firm of Atlanta that supports efforts to stop dog fighting, and a veterinarian were involved in the recovery of the dogs, Wallace said.

He said the organizations were called because they have experience in treating and evaluating dogs used for fighting.

Wallace said this was the first dog-fighting operation seized since he has been sheriff for over seven years but there had been some in the county many years ago. He said nothing uncovered in the Hargrove investigation has revealed any connection to other possible similar operations.

Anna Ware, an official with Norred and Associates, said the raid was well-conducted.

"I have been on 20 raids and this is the most well-organized raid I have ever seen," she said. "They have EMTs here and an ambulance in case anyone needs medical assistance, and it is also the second raid I've been on where they had four-wheelers."

Ms. Ware said a $5,000 reward is offered for anyone providing information that leads to arrests and convictions in dog-fighting incidents. Call 1-877-215-2250 or visit the Web site at HelpStopDogFighting.com.