Local News

Dog-fighting ring busted in Halifax County

Posted December 2, 2008 11:27 a.m. EST
Updated December 2, 2008 6:47 p.m. EST

— Nine men were arrested Sunday morning when Halifax County deputies broke up what they described as a highly organized dog-fighting ring on a farm east of Interstate 95, authorities said Tuesday.

Following a complaint of dog fighting near Enfield, deputies worked with county animal control officers and raided a farm off Bellamy's Mill Road early Sunday as a fight was in progress. About 20 people were at the fight, and most fled into nearby woods, authorities said.

Three pit bulls were seized, and one that was badly injured was  euthanized Monday, authorities said. Deputies also seized three handguns, marijuana and drug scales.

"The extent of the injuries that (the dogs) receive from the fights (are) so severe that a lot of these animals do not make it. They do not survive," said Lt. Bobby Martin of the Halifax County Sheriff's Office.

Because the dogs were trained to fight, they are unsuitable for adoption, meaning the others likely will have to be euthanized as well, animal control officer Robert Richardson said.

Animal control officers on Tuesday found a fourth pit bull that was involved in the fighting ring. The dog was attacking chickens on a rural road, authorities said.

"You have to wonder about the people that do it when you see the animals," Richardson said.

The following men were charged with dog fighting and have a Dec. 30 court date:

Charles Rives, 26, and Corey Sledge, 21, both of Whitakers; William Harris, 33, Ervin Brothers, 30, and Vernon Perry, 42, all of Elizabeth City; Scott Murphy, 28, of Corapeake; and Osaze Addae, 35, Richard Robinson, 32, and Anthony Wright, 33, all of Richmond, Va.

Rives also was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and possession of marijuana, and Wright also was charged with possession of a firearm by a felon and altering a serial number on a weapon.

Deputies said they believe Rives acted as a fight promoter, attracting participants and spectators from North Carolina and Virginia. The raid occurred on property owned by Rives' family, authorities said.

"They were charging $20 a head for people [to] come and just to watch," Martin said.

Deputies said the ring might have been in operation for at least a year, noting that they discovered several dog skeletons on the property.

"They brought animals from Virginia for the sole purpose to fight," Martin said, adding that federal charges could be filed in the case.

The case remains under investigation and more arrests are possible, authorities said.

Halifax County Crime Stoppers offers rewards for information leading to the arrest of people involved in animal fighting. The organization can be reached at 252-583-4444.