Lee County Sorts Out Dog Fighting Case, Dogs Now Being Stolen
Posted March 28, 2001 6:00 a.m. EST
SANFORD — Lee County investigators have piles of evidence to sift through at a suspected dogfighting farm, and are now wrestling with what to do with over 150 pit bulls - and some of those have now been stolen.
Authorities found 153 pit bulls, two pounds of marijuana, dogfighting paraphernalia and dozens of stolen guns Wednesday afternoon.
The suspects, Gaston Williamson Jr. and Leo Scully, made their first court appearance Thursday. Bond for both men has been set at $750,000, and they remain in custody at the Sanford Police Department facing numerous charges..
In the pit where the dogs allegedly fought, there are blood stains on some of the walls. County animal control officers are digging up the remains of dogs likely killed in battle.
What to do with the dogs has proven to be an immense problem. Originally, law enforcement thought the farm was remote enough that the most aggressive dogs could stay until other arrangements could be made. But people have been stealing some of the pit bulls which remains on Williamson's farm while he awaits trial.
The allure of these dogs is so strong that Randolph Hooker and Jerome Johnson got arrested trying to take them while investigators were still scouring the property for evidence.
A judge originally thought leaving 80 of the most aggressive dogs would work. But securing a spread out area would require officers around the clock and the county lacks the resources to do that.
The county has few options. They can not put the dogs to sleep because they are Williamson's property and he has not been found guilty of a crime. The judge has ordered the county to find temporary homes for all the pit bulls, which is proving difficult, since most animal shelters can only take one or two dogs.