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Vance Authorities Rescue 17 Dogs; Two Charged With Animal Cruelty

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VANCE COUNTY, N.C. — Vance County authorities rescued 17 abused and neglected dogs on Wednesday, and authorities said that at least 20 more dogs that were allegedly abused remain unaccounted for.

After a lengthy investigation, animal control officers seized 13 pit bulls, three bull mastiffs, and one pit bull mixed dog from a residential area on Stagecoach Road Wednesday afternoon. Authorities said that two of the dogs found were puppies.

Arrest warrants were also issued for the alleged owners: Lawanda Ragland, of Vance County, and Mark Anthony Davis. They face 17 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty apiece.

According to authorities, some of the abused dogs had lived in abusive conditions for at least three years. Animal control officials said that the abuse included depriving the dogs of adequate food and water and "overriding" the pit bull mix with heavy restraints. Ragland and Davis may also face additional fines for violating the county's vaccination ordinance.

Animal control officials first began their investigation into this case in 2003, when the dogs were kept at another residence but suddenly removed. Authorities reopened their investigation last September, when an anonymous tipster alerted them to the alleged abuse on Stagecoach Road. Investigators observed around 37 dogs being held in a 200-foot by 100-foot fenced area.

Authorities would not say whether the dogs were being raised for illegal dog fighting purposes. However, they said that some of the animals bore scars that were consistent with dog fighting.

Authorities said that the rescue happened after attempts to meet with Ragland and rectify the dogs' living conditions were unsuccessful.

"We're not out to take dogs and lock people up off the top," said Vance Animal Control Chief Alexander Hargrove. "We're going to give people the opportunity to correct the problem first."

Ragland and Davis are both scheduled to appear in court Aug 14.

Hargrove said the dogs are not adoptable.

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