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Dogs found in raid had scars, fresh wounds

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

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A pit bull was chained with a bandaged leg Saturday night at the site of an alleged dog fighting ring in Stoddard County. Twenty-six pit bulls were found on the property, and Missouri Humane Society officials said the dogs showed evidence of fighting.
(Corey Noles ~ Dexter Daily Statesman)
Humane Society veterinarians found numerous fresh puncture wounds, cuts and bites on several of the dogs found when law enforcement raided an alleged dog fighting ring in Dudley, Mo., Saturday.

Investigators also say they found a dog fighting ring, called a "pit" -- a converted horse stall in a barn which was lined with blood-stained carpet and covered with tarps.

A joint investigation by the Stoddard County Sheriff's department, Missouri State Highway Patrol, Southeast Missouri Drug Task Force and the Missouri Humane Society led to the arrest of three men Saturday. One of the men, Jessey D. Short, was from Cape Girardeau. Police also arrested Jamie D. Sifford, who owned the property at 17239 County Road 481, and Curtis E. Pickering of South Fulton, Tenn.

Police, who were acting on an anonymous tip, seized 26 pit bulls, more than half of whom bore fresh wounds or older battle scars around the head and neck, injuries commonly associated with dog fighting, said Tim Rickey, director of Rescue and Investigations for the Missouri Humane Society.

"Some of them looked like they had been fighting for a long time ... There was severe scarring," he said.

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Investigators also found two specially designed treadmills used in training fighting dogs, 10 or more tools used to pry open a dog's jaws from another dog's flesh and medical supplies typical of those needed to treat fight-related injuries, Rickey said.

When investigators found the dogs, they were confined by heavy chains in small spaces, with no interaction aside from their "trainers," Rickey said, describing the conditions as "horrible."

They were also infested with fleas.

The pit bulls, along with a beagle that Rickey said may have been either a pet or possibly a stray, were transported to the Missouri Humane Society in St. Louis, fed and treated for their wounds.

"They were taken to a nice, safe, dry, comfortable place, and we just let them chill out," said spokeswoman for the humane society Jeane Jae.

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Examination by the humane society's veterinarians revealed "numerous" fresh puncture wounds, cuts and bites, Jae said.

The beagle appeared unharmed, other than from neglect, and there was no evidence that it had been used in dog fights, but may have been intended as a "bait" animal, Rickey said.

Baiting is the practice of throwing a smaller, weaker animal in a pit with a fighting dog as a "test match" to see if the fighter is "game" enough to willingly attack its opponent, Rickey said.

Once a judge officially transfers responsibility for the dogs from the sheriff's department to the humane society, their behavior will be evaluated to see if they might be rehabilitated as adoptable animals.

The Missouri Humane Society does not put pit bulls up for adoption, Rickey said, because dog fighting in the St. Louis area is so rampant.

"The worst thing we can do is put these dogs back in the hands of people that want them for fighting," Rickey said.

Rescue centers, however, often work with the humane society in trying to provide suitable homes for pit bulls they consider to be reformable, he said.

All three suspects were charged with felony dog fighting, a crime punishable by not more than four years in jail or a fine of not more than $5,000.

Police also charged Sifford with possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of a controlled substance, charges that carry a combined sentence of up to eight years in jail. The drug charges were due to the unmarked prescription bottles police found to contain the antidepressant drug Xanax and the painkiller hydrocodone.

Drugs and dog fighting go hand in hand, and there is a proven connection between the two crimes, Rickey said.

Both spell easy money, considering that a well-bred fighting dog will fetch at least $5,000 as a puppy, he said.

"It primarily comes from the people that do this; it's not uncommon to find ex-felons, because, who else is going to come watch an animal fight?" he said.

Sifford has several prior criminal offenses, one for possession of controlled substance, and three women have filed ex parte orders of protection against him in connection with adult abuse, all within the last two years, though those cases were later dropped.

Dog fighting has been rampant throughout the state of Missouri, said Rickey, whose office has investigated reports of dog fighting in practically every county, including several in Cape Girardeau.

The three suspects are being held at the Stoddard County jail, Pickering and Short on $125,000 cash bond. No bond is posted for Sifford.

Rickey commended the sheriff's department on its tenacity in pursuing the anonymous tip, which he said may have come from someone who had seen the number of injured dogs on the property.

Even neighbors living in proximity may not have heard the organized fights, however, because pit bulls stay relatively silent, even in the midst of a fight, due to both an extremely high pain tolerance and intense focus when fighting, he said.

"They were flying under the radar," said Dr. Jerry Eber, a veterinarian with the Animal Care Facilities Act Program.

Eber said that because more than three female dogs were found on the residence, they had a legal obligation to obtain a breeding license.

"If they'd applied for a license, we'd have seen the telltale signs of dog fighting," he said.

bdicosmo@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 245


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My personal opinion is that any dog that has tasted blood needs to be put to sleep and not adoped out to anyone. You never know when they may turn on you and although they become so loveable, they are still dogs. My x-husband was mauled to death by our very own two American Pitbulls, two years ago in his home in St. Charles Mo. The newpaper article stated that he was attacked while standing up, which is bull. His dogs loved him and I believe that he had a seizure (from a brain tumor operation) and was left helpless in his home. He was found dead with a broken neck and pull marks all over his body. I believe that the dogs were trying to wake him up. The girl dog years ago also attacked a neighbors little dog and the boy dog had snapped at a young child. I thought that since they were dead that they would be in heaven together until I was told that dogs don't have souls and can't go to heaven.(interesting huh???)

-- Posted by carco on Tue, Oct 23, 2007, at 10:08 AM

Carco-I'm confused. Which was it? Was your ex killed by the dogs or by result of the seizure? Big difference.

-- Posted by NowInLA on Tue, Oct 23, 2007, at 10:33 AM

All dogs go to Heaven!!!

-- Posted by tammy1123 on Tue, Oct 23, 2007, at 11:26 AM

My son has an inside pit bull and she is very sweet. I still believe it's how they've been raised. Any dog reared in a violent environment will become mean. My brother-in-law has a Chihuahua that will eat you up. I have a Chihuahua that is scared of anyone until he gets to know you, but won't bite anyone unless he feels he's in danger. I have an outside black Lab that is very protective but won't bite unless she feels either herself or us are threatened. We trained her that way since we live in the country. I've lived in the country most of my life and I've never seen a mean Beagle, but I'm sure they exist.

I hope these guys really pay for this. It saddens me when people mistreat animals. I hope they spend enough time to think about what they've done to never do it again and also spend a lot of money!

-- Posted by leighann457 on Tue, Oct 23, 2007, at 12:04 PM

Amen, wouldn't be heaven without em'.

-- Posted by jaxon on Tue, Oct 23, 2007, at 12:06 PM

Jo Ann Emerson is supporting Rudy Guiliani for president. It's true.

-- Posted by pbenedict on Tue, Oct 23, 2007, at 12:17 PM

How would those guys like to be put in a pit and couldn't come out till the other was dead or unable to fight back. Think about it!! these guys are sick and they deserve what ever comes their way. God made the animals before man. He will see they (the poor animals) get justice.

-- Posted by janaj100 on Tue, Oct 23, 2007, at 12:46 PM

If my beloved pet ain't welcome in heaven then I'm not sure I want to be there either.

-- Posted by trucks on Tue, Oct 23, 2007, at 2:57 PM

The autopsy report stated that my ex-husband's death was caused by a sharp force, crusing injury to the neck. (death by canine)then a few months later a special report stated that they did a brain damage autopsy. It was too late they already killed the dogs. Why didn't they do an autopsy on the dogs and see if there was some foul play involved. Maybe they could have been poisoned or had something go wrong in their system. Honesty I don't know what killed him first, but I do believe that the autopsy reports can detect how you take your last breath.(YOU CAN CHECK OUT THE NEWPAPER ARTICLES BY TYPING IN LORINZE REDDINGS OR GO TO PIT BULL.COM AND SEE ALL OF THE HORRIBLE STORIES)

-- Posted by carco on Tue, Oct 23, 2007, at 3:32 PM

Put them all to sleep,Dogs and Owners.Neither one will ever be worth a s__t

-- Posted by DaveB on Tue, Oct 23, 2007, at 4:59 PM

I grew up with multi dogs at one time my whole life. I am now over 50. Our dogs killed skunks, bunnies, raccoons, rats, stray cats and herded cattle and hogs. They even would sometimes kill a chicken (bad doggy).

All of that blood did not make them acquire a taste for blood. They were never vicious to humans and seldom did we have a dog that killed the family pet cats. When we told them to stop before killing that skunk, badger or bunny they would stop. The same for herding cattle or chasing hogs. They stopped when called told to. Then they would come to us tail wagging and waiting for praise (their reward for a JOB well done).

HELLO out there... The taste of blood? I guess the dogs trained to do police work should never go to schools or around the public or with their police officer partner because they will eat them all up too.

-- Posted by rescuedogsandcats on Tue, Oct 23, 2007, at 11:46 PM

ok you people dont really know whats going on so you shouldnt be ready to put someone underneath the dang jail until you know the WHOLE story and not just bits and pieces!! The alleged "drugs" were only a few pills that are prescribed to Jamie! Curtis was only buying dog food and was not there for any other reason! There wasnt a dang dog fight! They even said that there wasnt a dog fight when they raided them!!! When you have a bunch of animals you have to keep vet supplies on hand incase something happens! PITS FIGHT EACH OTHER ALL THE TIME ON THEIR OWN!! NOT ONLY PIT GET INTO FIGHT AND RIP EACH OTHER APART BUT WHEN YOU HAVE PIT YOU HAVE TO HAVE SOMETHING TO LOOSEN THEIR JAWS OFF ANOTHER DOG B/C THEIR JAWS LOCK UNTIL THEY ARE FINSHED!!!

-- Posted by family_first on Wed, Oct 24, 2007, at 5:46 PM


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