DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – A total of 42 pit bulls, some of them just puppies and many of them covered in scars and wounds, were removed from a property that was being used for dog fighting, according to the Daytona Beach Police Department.
Police said many were kept in cages that were covered in feces and urine and provided little room for movement while others were weighed down by heavy chains and wore collars so tight they had to be cut off their necks.
Many of the dogs had wounds that were in various stages of healings and scars on their heads, forelimbs and flanks, areas dogs often target during fights, according to the affidavit.
Records show police went to the property on Reva Street in late February and found an illegally installed fence and evidence that several dogs were on the lot.
The fence was torn down and police said they immediately noticed 18 dogs in makeshift wooden kennels that reeked of excrement and others tethered with heavy chains. The dogs were all separated from each other, which is a common practice in dog fighting situations “to prevent injury as well as to encourage aggression,” the report said.
Police said they also found a red cell product that is used to promote healing and boost red blood cell counts. It is often used on fighting dogs, according to authorities.
A search warrant was executed and animal control was brought in to investigate.
Records show the dogs in cages had no bedding and very little access to water, their cages were deteriorating and it appeared that they had been confined for extended periods of times.
The dogs that were chained outside only had a wooden box or plastic igloo-type structure to use as shelter, according to the affidavit.
“Each of the chains were heavy gauge. The chained dogs had been confined in this manner long enough for each to create trenches over a foot deep in places around the circumference of the chain space. The chains ranged in length from 7 feet long to 18 feet long with the lightest chain weight 3.7 lbs and the heaviest chain weight of 12.5 lbs,” the report read.
Daytona Beach police say they rescued 42 pit bulls from a dog fighting ring.
Police noted that the dogs showed signs of aggression, including baring their teeth and barking. The puppies that were in cages “appeared to be trying to escape the wire cages by biting and yanking the wires on the doors and tops of the cages,” records show.
A black female pit bull that was found inside the home had an infected eye that was caked with a greenish yellow substance, according to the affidavit.
Police said they removed 42 dogs from the home: 20 adult females, four adult males and 18 puppies between 8 and 12 weeks old. They were taken to Halifax Humane Society but their current condition is unknown.
“A court forfeiture hearing later this week could determine if those dogs will be returned to the defendants or if they will be awarded to the police department. If that happens, DBPD would sign them over to HHS in the hopes some could be adopted out in the future,” the department said in a news release.
Records show 53-year-old Noble Geathers, who is believed to be the ring leader, 50-year-old Earl Holmes and 33-year-old Benjamin Ponder were arrested on multiple charges.
Geathers was arrested March 9 on 24 counts of animal fighting and 10 counts of felony cruelty to animals. He has since been released from the Volusia County Jail. Arrest records show Geathers owns the lots where the dogs were kept.
Ponder faces similar charges in addition to drug possession and Holmes is accused of 10 counts of practicing veterinary medicine without a license and 10 counts of felony cruelty to animals.
According to Ponder’s arrest report, he attempted to leave the scene and when officers began to initiate a traffic stop, Ponder threw several items out of his car before stopping. Those items were later picked up by authorities and included a small digital scale and a clear bag with suspected cocaine inside. Officers also said they found suspected marijuana and more than $8,600 in cash in Ponder’s car and his license was suspended at the time of his arrest.
County officials are asking the public to always keep an eye out for these situations in your neighborhood.
“You have your own personal pets, you know the kind of care they need. If you find someone has a pet that isn’t receiving that or you’re concerned, just make the phone call,” Director of Volusia County Animal Services Adam Leath said.
Leath said people wanting to get dogs for fighting often get them through other people who are doing the same thing.
“They really do focus on game testing or fighting dogs that they’re likely to encounter during illegal activity,” he said.
It’s not unheard of, though, for those wanting those dogs to take advantage of people wanting to adopt their pets out themselves. Edgewater Animal Rescue took to its Facebook page with that warning after this Daytona Beach case.
Rescue Director Roxanne Hicks said the rescue is seeing an uptick in people wanting to give dogs up for adoption. She said there were a lot of people who got dogs during the pandemic when they had the time and now they’ve gone back to work and don’t.
“We’ve had quite a few in the last few weeks, people wanting to surrender their pets,” she said.
Hicks said to try to find a shelter to adopt the dogs out for you or make sure you do the research on the person yourself.
“Our adoption coordinator looks at all of the court records, looks for mug shots, then goes and looks at their social media,” she said.
The county also has a website where you can search a database for those previously charged with animal abuse.
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