Fate of dogs taken in raid uncertain; Eight suspects charged in what police describe as organized dogfight

THE BALTIMORE SUN

A dozen pit bull terriers confiscated by police remained at Baltimore County Animal Control yesterday, their futures undecided, while some of their owners posted bail on charges stemming from an organized dogfight.

Eight men, all from Baltimore County or Baltimore City, were charged after police said they broke up a gathering that attracted dozens of spectators and dogs to the 4000 block of Buckingham Road in the Villa Nova area Saturday night.

Officers said they found the dozen pit bulls, many bleeding from fresh wounds, and a dog pen heavily stained with blood, in a garage at the site. Many spectators fled when police arrived, leaving their cars and dogs behind, police records showed.

Dorian Wesley McCray, 25, of the 2800 block of Huntingdon Ave. and Raymond Gene Miller, 25, of the first block of Right Elevator Drive were charged with use of a dog at a dogfight -- a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of a $5,000 fine and three years in prison -- police said.

William Watson, 37, of the first block of Winters Lane was charged with animal cruelty, a misdemeanor punishable by a $1,000 fine and 90 days in jail, according to police.

McCray, Miller, Watson and five others were charged with being spectators at a dogfight -- a misdemeanor offense with a maximum penalty of a $1,000 fine and 90 days in jail. Police said the other five men charged were: Gregory Thomas Welch, 23, of the 3500 block of Hayward Ave.; Donte Leroy Miller, 26, of the 2100 block of Park Place; Andrew Tucker, 22, of the 1600 block of Melby Court; Russell James Shiflett, 19, of the 1900 block of Denbury Drive; and Bradley B. Atkins, 22, of the 200 block of St. Helena Ave.

All but three of the men were free on bail by yesterday afternoon, said police spokesman Bill Toohey.

An animal rights advocate said yesterday that dogfighting is a serious problem in the Baltimore area.

"This is a violence issue," said Debbie Thomas, executive director of the Maryland Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Baltimore. "It's a serious problem because there are so many pit bulls being bred and trained to fight, to guard drug stashes."

"We've seen them chewed up and half-dead," Thomas said.

The fate of the dogs remained unclear. County Attorney Virginia W. Barnhart, who will decide the matter with the county animal control staff, said yesterday that no decision had been made.

Thomas, the SPCA director, said most shelters don't offer pit bull terriers for adoption because responsible owners don't want them.

In some cases, Thomas said, the dogs are returned to their owners if the owners can prove the animals are properly vaccinated and licensed.

"There's nothing more infuriating than that," Thomas said.

Pub Date: 3/23/99

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