(VitalNews.org) – Last weekend, Mississippi law enforcement busted a large dog fighting ring in Como, recusing at least 29 dogs while detaining no suspects.
According to reports, the Panola County Sheriff responded to an emergency call last Saturday evening. The hang-up caller alleged that a dog fight was happening at the residence. When deputies arrived, they found a large crowd gathered to watch the dog fighting, all of whom dispersed as soon as law enforcement appeared. The sheriff’s office said in a statement that most of the cars that fled were registered in other counties and out of state.
The owner of the residence was identified as Damien Jay Smoot, 37, who authorities arrested and charged with running the operation. They confiscated 13 abandoned vehicles at the scene. Police believe the vehicles belonged to participants and organizers of the dog fighting ring. Equipment used for dog fighting was also discovered on the site, and 29 canines were rescued.
Shane Phelps, a sheriff for Panola County, said the condition of the rescued dogs was “horrible,” and that all of the dogs appeared emaciated. The dogs also had scars on their bodies from previous fights. Phelps said that those “doing this to these dogs need to be in jail.” All the recused dogs are currently being housed on the property of the sheriff’s office because there are no nearby shelters to take them in. They said they are ensuring that the dogs receive the best treatment while making plans to relocate them.
Dogfighting is an illegal sport conducted in secret where perpetrators raise and breed dogs to be more aggressive in order to use them to fight one another for entertainment and profit. Organizers and spectators bet on the dog fights. The practice is now a felony offense in all fifty states in the US, which was signed into law in 2019 under the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act.
The investigation into this recent bust in Mississippi is still ongoing and local law enforcement expects more arrests will be made in connection with the ring.
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