DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Police say that three people have been arrested and over 40 dogs have been rescued from a Daytona Beach dogfighting ring.
The Daytona Beach Police Department said it obtained a search warrant from a judge to enter properties on Reva Street and a vacant lot on February 22. They found 42 pit bulls – 24 adults and 18 puppies – living in those properties. Most of them were said to be in small kennels made out of wood and wire, car carriers, or chained to car axles.
"We have puppies that were neglected all the way up to older dogs that have scar tissue, old scars, new wounds that are still healing... scratches, bite marks, open wounds that are still in the healing process," said Deputy Chief Jennifer Whittet.
Officials also said that the dogs had little or no access to clean water or food. Some of the animals had no access to shelter and the ones that did, were covered in urine and feces. Many of them had cuts or wounds, which were found to be consistent with dogfighting.
In addition, police said that the female dogs were breeding new puppies for fighting. Medical records were found for the dogs, as well as various dog supplements and medications. One of the medicines is commonly used in dogfighting to boost red cell production, stamina and endurance.
"We don’t know how far this ring or other people involved in this ring may go so it’s still an ongoing investigation," said Deputy Chief Whittet.
Noble Geathers, 53, Earl Holmes, 50, and Benjamin Ponder, 33, were reportedly arrested and all face several felony charges, including animal cruelty, animal fighting and practicing veterinary medicine without a license.
Photo from the Daytona Beach Police Department
Police said that they believe Geathers was the ringleader. He is specifically facing 35 charges, including 24 counts of animal fighting, 10 counts of felony cruelty to animals and one count of practicing veterinary medicine without a license. He has bonded out of jail.
Ponder is said to have also bonded out of jail, but Holmes remains there.
"When you look into these dogs eyes. This isn’t what they’re for. This isn’t what the dog wants. I don’t know how somebody can be so inhumane," said Deputy Chief Whittet.
All the puppies and adult females were said to have been removed and taken to the Halifax Humane Society for safekeeping. A court hearing will soon determine if the dogs can be returned to the defendants or awarded to the police department. If the latter happens, the dogs would be signed over to the Halifax Humane Society so that some could be adopted.
"So hopefully, on Friday, the judge will rule that those dogs now belong to the police department and then we’ll sign those dogs over to the humane society to adopt out or whatever needs to be done with them," said Deputy Chief Whittet.
The arrests and rescues were said to be a joint effort between the Volusia County’s Animal Services Division, Halifax Humane Society, the City of Daytona Beach’s Animal Control Unit, the city’s Code Enforcement Division and the Daytona Beach Police Department.
Tune in to FOX 35 Orlando for the latest Central Florida news.