Men arraigned on dogfighting charges

Friday, November 2, 2007

The three men accused of felony dogfighting were arraigned before Judge Joe Z. Satterfield on Thursday at the Stoddard County Courthouse.

Jamie Sifford, 29, of Dudley, Mo., and Jessey Short, 30, of Cape Girardeau, will have a preliminary hearing Nov. 29.

The third suspect in the alleged dogfighting ring, Curtis Pickering, 28, of South Fulton, Tenn., was granted a motion for a change of judge.

The proceedings for Pickering move to Judge Stephen R. Sharp for appointment of a new judge.

Pickering faces two counts of dogfighting. Short is charged with three counts of dogfighting. Sifford is charged with 18 counts of dogfighting, three counts of possession of a controlled substance and one count of unlawful use of drug paraphernalia.

If he is convicted on all the charges, Sifford could face up to 94 years in jail.

The three men were arrested Oct. 20 when officers from the Stoddard County Sheriff's Department received an anonymous tip that Sifford had dog fights on his rural property in Dudley. More than two dozen dogs with various stages of fighting-related injuries were seized in the bust.

Police found a horse stall that had been converted to a "fighting pit," complete with a blood-stained carpet, and equipment associated with training dogs for fighting, including two treadmills with leashes attached to them, and "breadsticks," or hammers used to pry a dog's jaw off another animal.

The 26 dogs, pit bulls of unknown breeding, and a beagle, are being kept at the Humane Society headquarters in St. Louis.

"They're all still recovering well," said Jeane Jae, spokeswoman for the Humane Society.

The humane society is still in the process of trying to obtain legal custody of the dogs from the Stoddard County Sheriff's Department, because right now the dogs are considered evidence in the case.

"We're trying to work with the courts and hopefully will get them all adopted out," Jae said.

A panel of both pit bull and animal behavioral experts has been assembled to evaluate the animals for adoptability once they are the property of the humane society.

335-6611, extension 245

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