Local News

Man Allegedly Involved In Dogfighting Ring Appears In Court

Posted November 2, 2001 7:19 a.m. EST

— A man accused of running a dogfighting ring in Wake County made his first court appearance Friday.

Samson Pruitt has been charged with several crimes, including cruelty to animals and dog fighting - both felonies. Even though he is charged with felonies, he may serve little or no time.

"There are certain felonies, the lowest level felonies, for which you cannot be given an active sentence unless you have a certain number of convictions or certain number of prior record points, and cruelty to animals is one of those felonies," said Assistant District Attorney Deborah Shandles.

A Wake County sheriff's deputy planned to evict Pruitt at a house on Smithfield and Poole roads Thursday, when he discovered the dogs. Authorities found 81 pit bulls, mostly puppies, and a treadmill used for dogfighting in Pruitt's house.

Authorities also found 11 snakes, some of which are poisonous, in the house, as well as a baby crocodile. Bags of marijuana and other drug paraphrenalia were also discovered there.

Authorities arrested Pruitt and charged him with animal cruelty. Authorities said Pruitt was arrested for dogfighting three years ago in Orange County. He spent a year in jail for that crime.

For now, animal control officers have taken the dogs to the Wake County animal shelter.

"They could be released back to the owners if they are found not guilty. If they are found guilty they could be either ordered to be destroyed or put up for adoption," said Nancy Clemmons of the Wake County Animal Shelter.

Animal control officers said that if the animals are not returned to the owner, the puppies will likely be placed for adoption and 20 to 25 adult dogs will likely be put to sleep because they could pose a risk.

Caring for an additional 81 dogs will put a strain on the shelter, but Clemmons said that some local rescue teams may be called in to help care for some of the dogs.

Anyone who would like to make a donation, or drop off needed dog food, can call the shelter at (919) 240-1475.

The snakes will be cared for at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.

The boy is in his mother's custody. The mother and Pruitt are not married.

Pruitt is in jail on $25,000 bond. His next court appearance is in about three weeks.