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Judge OKs Public Sale Of Pit Bulls Seized In Alleged Dog-Fighting Ring

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JOHNSTON COUNTY, N.C. — A Johnston County judge ruled last week that 38 pit bulls believed to be bred as part of a large dog-fighting operation can be sold to the public.

The Johnston County Sheriff's Office seized 47 of the animals from the scene of a fatal shooting near Kenly in February. In April, a judge agreed to return 38 of them to their owner, Triston Hinson, who is charged with dog fighting, or his girlfriend.

"The dogs are really not very human aggressive, they are bred to be animal aggressive, and that's precisely what they are," said Ernie Wilkinson, director of Johnston County Animal Services. "They are, in fact, animal aggressive."

The judge's ruling states that Hinson must turn over a bill of sale for each dog to the county's animal services or to the county attorney, listing the new owners' name and address. Each also has an electronic chip so that it can be identified later.

Workers at the animal shelter said they recently received a call from a woman claiming she bought 11 of the pit bulls in question, but so far, county officials said, none of the required paperwork has been received.

"There is always a concern in our mind, as animal people, that any animal that is fought for sport, that there may be a danger in this animal turning on people," Wilkinson said.

Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell said he is also concerned that the dogs are being sold to just about anyone and also that the county will not be able to recoup nearly $20,000 that was spent caring for the dogs.

The future of the nine other dogs -- which were the only ones veterinarians could confirm were actually involved in fighting -- is still uncertain. Most of them are being held as evidence.

"We have eight in custody, now" Wilkinson said. "We had to euthanize one because of an incident between that and another animal."


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