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Man Awaits Sentencing After Admitting To Running Illegal Dog-Fighting Operation

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RALEIGH, N.C. — A Wake County man faces sentencing on felony charges related to running one of the biggest dog-fighting operations ever shut down by local animal control officials.

Samson G. Pruitt, 29, pleaded guilty Dec. 20 to felony dog fighting and cruelty to animals in connection with the 81 pit bullsremoved from his house in November 2001.

Pruitt also pleaded guilty to possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana and maintaining a dwelling for the purpose ofselling a controlled substance.

Assistant District Attorney Shelley Desvousges said Pruitt will be sentenced Jan. 27.

In November of 2001, Wake County Deputy Steve Cook went to Pruitt's home to serve eviction papers when he noticed about a dozen pitbull terriers near the house and equipment used in breeding and fighting dogs.

When Cook returned with a search warrant, he and other deputies found about 60 dogs chained to trees in woods behind the house, aswell as many dogs in metal cages or dog houses made out of blue plastic barrels.

Inside the house, deputies found a baby Nile crocodile, three boa constrictors, six pythons and two poisonous snakes - a Westerndiamondback rattlesnake and a Gaboon viper, which is considered one of the deadliest snakes in the world. None of the area hospitalscarries the antivenom to treat a bite from a Gaboon viper, state officials said.

All but a few of the pit bull terriers were euthanized because they suffered from a parasite that attacks an animal's intestinaltract causing diarrhea. The snakes and reptiles were being cared for by the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences.

In 1997, Pruitt was arrested in what was then one of the Research Triangle's biggest dog-fighting cases. Authorities seized27 pit bulls from his home, then west of Hillsborough.

Pruitt and two others pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty and were sentenced to probation. Pruitt ended upserving active time for failing to report to his probation officer.

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