05/06/10 — Dog fighting suspect remains in Duplin County jail

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Dog fighting suspect remains in Duplin County jail

By Nelson Bland
Published in News on May 6, 2010 1:46 PM

KENANSVILLE -- A Mount Olive man, Harry Lewis Hargrove, 76, of 306 Buck Hill Road who was arrested last month on felony dog-fighting charges remains in the Duplin County Jail under a $308,000 bond, Duplin County Sheriff Blake Wallace said.

Meanwhile, Hargrove could face federal charges in the case, Wallace said.

Hargrove was booked on 59 felonies related to dog fighting -- 34 counts of possession of dogs for the purpose of dog fighting and 25 for cruelty to and neglect of animals. He was also cited for two charges of possession of stolen firearms.

Wallace said a court date has not been set for Hargrove.

"This is currently an ongoing investigation and Mr. Hargrove could face additional charges from the federal authorities who are examining this case for federal adoption," the sheriff said.

Evidence collected at the scene indicated federal laws might have been violated, saidf Wallace, who did not elaborate. But he noted cases tried in federal courts usually carry stiffer punishments than those in state courts.

Wallace said Hargrove has a criminal record and has been charged in the past with dog fighting, gambling and cruelty to animals in Georgia. He said Hargrove is originally from the Mount Olive area, but moved away for some time before moving back in recent years.

The alleged dog-fighting operation based at Hargrove's mobile home residence just off the Tram Road, about 12 miles southeast of Mount Olive in northern Duplin County, was "one of the worst" U.S. Humane Society officials said they had seen.

Ann Ware of the Atlanta Humane Society of Atlanta said there were many wounded dogs, dogs with scars, ripped skin, maggots in wounds and even exposed bones in the canines just inside a wooded area in front of the Hargrove residence and up a dirt path a short distance from the road.

Wallace said there were various kinds of equipment used to train dogs to become aggressive and muscular, such as treadmills the dogs were forced to walk on. He said numerous other devices that were used to train dogs to attack, bite and to become aggressive were also found at the site.

Officers also located a 16-by-16-foot dog-fighting pit on the property.

As dogs were treated and placed in portable carriers for transport on the day of the raid, the public was kept a safe distance away, about 50 yards, since some dogs had to be muzzled due to their aggressiveness.

Thirty-three live dogs were confiscated, including some that were chained with heavy logging chains and others tied to stakes, Wallace said. He said several deceased canines were found at the location.

A mobile unit that is fully equipped for animal rescue operations from the Atlanta Humane Society was at the scene to transport dogs after they were treated by two veterinarians. Wallace said the dogs would be taken to a facility, which was not disclosed, where they would be evaluated and maybe later put up for adoption.

While there were probably some mixed-breed dogs among the 33 live animals, many appeared to be pit bulls or part pit bulls, Wallace said.

The raid and subsequent charges were the result of a month-long investigation by the Duplin County Sheriff's Office in cooperation with the Atlanta Humane Society that had received a tip on the dog-fighting operation.

Assisting Duplin deputies on the raid were Wilson and Greene counties sheriffs' officers and Greene County and Duplin County Animal Control officials. Wallace said these agencies were called for assistance because they have experience in animal rescue such as the dog operation.

Meanwhile Ms. Ware said the Humane Society seeks anonymous tips on dog fighting and a $5,000 reward is offered for anyone providing information that leads to arrests and convictions in dog-fighting incidents. She said the number to call for more information is toll free 1-877-215-2250 or one may visit the Web site at HelpStopDogFighting.com.