Dog Owners Speak Out On Dog Fighting Charges

They're charged with taking part in a dog fighting ring, but say they were doing nothing wrong. Thursday morning, 21 of the people arrested in January had a date in a Hancock County Courtroom.

They weren't able to explain themselves in court because the Judge delayed the hearing until they all got lawyers. But those accused made their first public statements about what happen that night.

They came out of court ready to tell their side of what happened the night of January 10th, when Hancock County Sheriff's deputies showed up on Lewis Lane.

"The night they said everybody was fighting dogs there were people gathered at Kenny's house to buy property that he owned. Puppies, vehicles he was losing his property he was 72-thousand dollars in debt he was selling everything he had he was making breeding different things he was doing to try to raise money," said former Hancock County Resident, Mary Kennerson.

Kennerson is one of three people charged with running a vicious dog fighting ring along with her ex-boyfriend Kenny Larousse.

She told WLOX News, "There was no dog fight never.."

But Sheriff's investigators said 28 dogs, mostly pit bulls, pens, chains and a fighting pit point to an elaborate on going operation. Kennerson explained everything deputies found as gear used to train dogs for hunting wild pigs.

"When you hunt hogs you have to teach puppies and dogs to bay the pigs. As far as the treadmill goes when you have more than 4 or 5 dogs how are you going to walk them everyday? They need exercise you just can't leave them like that," she said.

Kevin Valentine brought one of his dogs from Louisiana that night.

"I just came there to breed my female and I came and they questioned me wanted to know if we came to fight dogs no we're not there to fight," he said.

Scars on the dogs and their violent behavior convinced investigators otherwise.

A veterinarian who examined the dogs determined the animals were trained to fight, so the 28 dogs were put down.

"You could see on the news yesterday the day before that the dog is sitting their wagging his tale with the vet if he was so aggressive why didn't he attack the vet," said Hancock County Resident Terri Scully.

Three of those dogs belonged to Mary Kennerson, who said, "I cried, I'm still crying I have pictures of them. They talk about cruelty to animals they're putting dogs to sleep."

Kennerson said authorities rushed to judgment that night. That's something she and the others hope to eventually prove in court.

The arraignment hearing was continued to September 3rd because the defendants didn't have attorneys.

Each one asked for a public defender, saying they couldn't afford a lawyer. Judge Kosta Vlahos denied the requests and told them to mow lawns or wash cars to earn the money.

Dog fighting is a felony in Mississippi with a maximum sentence of three years in prison watching a dog fight has a sentence of up to one year in prison.