22 Charged With Dog Fighting In Hancock County

22 people, ages 19-46, are facing dog fighting charges in what police are calling a highly organized and professional dog fighting ring. 28 dogs and 18 vehicles were confiscated.

Responding to a 911 hang-up call from a mobile home on Lewis Lane near Kiln, MS, deputies found 75 people and 32 dogs at approximately 9:30 PM Saturday. Four of the dogs were deceased.

Of the dogs found, most were Pit Bulls. Sunday morning, animal control officers caged all the animals and carried them off, while animal shelter employees snapped pictures. Officers said the animals were in good condition.

"They had it pretty well enclosed where nobody could see it. We were just lucky to walk in up on this one," Captain Kenneth Hurt of the Hancock County Sheriff Department said.

Orange and blue ribbon was wrapped around trees making a trail down to the pit.

"This here's a pit where they were fighting the dogs. You can see where they've got the black tarp going all the way around joining into this tent. They were hiding it down here so nobody could see what was going on," Hurt said.

Equipped with lights for fighting at night, deputies found a dog examination room and pharmacy. Inside the exam room was a tub, table and scale.

"Some of the dogs when they are brought in have to be washed because a lot of people think they might have chemicals on them.

"They use this here to chain the dogs to it," Hurt said pointing to the chain used to keep the dog on the treadmill.

"These are drugs they use to treat the dogs for injuries and sometimes to pep them up with different drugs, " said Investigator Matt Barnett of the Hancock County Sheriff Department as he pointed out a tackle box full of different drugs.

Deputies also found blood stop powder.

"If a dog gets cut, they try to put the powder on there to get the bleeding to stop," Barnett said.

A concession area selling hot dogs and soda pop was set up in the mobile home. There were signs saying "cold drinks and hot dogs for $1" posted on the wall.

"So they were set up to sell, and make a little cash on the side," Hurt said.

Outside there were heavy chains, several make-shift dog houses, and a couple of 'spring poles.' Owners used the devices to strengthen the dogs' jaws. The dog clamps its jaw to the rope and whips its head back and forth. It's called the bite and shake technique.

"You can see the dogs chained out there, the amount of dogs he has here--yes, it's been going for a good while," Hurt said.

Deputies said they get calls about dog fights fairly often, but by the time they get to the scene many of the people have usually fled.

"Most of them we've gotten four of five dogs from fighting, when we get tipped, but by the time we get there, they're gone. But we lucked up and walked right up on one," Hurt said.

The dogs were taken to animal shelters throughout South Mississippi. Animal control officials said it's likely that the dogs will all be put to sleep.

Along with everything else, several shot guns were also confiscated. Some of the guns were in the NIC database and marked as stolen.

Investigators said more arrests are to come.