DOGFIGHTING RAIDS LEAD TO DRUG BUSTS
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 1998:
HILLSBOROUGH, N.C.– –
RAS Kennels owner Glenson Rolston Isaac,
29, of Hillsborough, on June 10 became
the first person charged under a 1997 North
Carolina law making dogfighting a felony.
Sheriffs’ deputies and Orange
County animal control officers seized 45 pit
bull terriers from RAS Kennels one day
after Isaac and kennel workers Dwayne
Harrigan, 25, of Durham, and Kelvin A.
Brown, 27, of Miami, were arrested for
possession of an estimated $300,000 worth
of cocaine, found during investigation of a
complaint that the kennel had exceeded the
20-dog zoning limit.
“Most of the dogs were chained to
stakes near a large unfinished house,” Todd
Nelson of the Raleigh News & Observer
reported. “Animal control officers found a
treadmill used to train dogs for fighting in a
nearby trailer. Back in the woods, they discovered
four injured dogs in cages and shallow
graves holding dog carcasses.”
The North Carolina case paralleled
the April 14 arrest of three men in St.
John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana, for
alleged dogfighting and drug offenses, the
May 1 arrest of Vernon Bardell, 30, for
alleged dogfighting and possession of
cocaine, in Oakland, California, and the
May 5 seizure of 37 pit bulls and two
pounds of marijuana from Patrick G. Mann,
52, of Thetford Township, Michigan.
Arrested in St. John the Baptist
Parish were Dwayne Anthony Kanzig, 21,
under an outstanding drug-related warrant,
as well as for alleged dogfighting; Brandon
Margan, 18, for alleged distribution or
manufacture of a controlled dangerous substance,
plus alleged dogfighting; and
Avron Tobias, 22, for alleged dogfighting
and cruelty to animals. St. John Sheriff’s
Office chief deputy Harold Kilbert said
Margan was caught in the act of attempting
to buy four pieces of crack cocaine.
Twelve pit bulls and a quarter
ounce of cocaine were seized from Bardell,
along with dogfighting videos, Oakland
The Mann raid reportedly netted
20 to 30 goose carcasses, a device used to
dangle them in front of dogs, other training
paraphernalia, and videos of dog fights.
One of Mann’s pit bulls was shot during the
raid after biting a police officer. The rest
were killed in early June by order of Central
District Court Judge Christopher R. Odette,
who rejected claims from two other men
that they were the dogs’ actual owners.
Keeping alleged fighting dogs at
shelters has become increasingly problematic,
not only because of the potential risk to
staff in handling them, but also because of
the growing risk of gangs raiding shelters
either to deprive authorities of evidence or
just to reclaim or acquire dogs.
One of the more brazen such raids
yet came on June 6, when persons
unknown removed five pit bulls from the
Connecticut K-9 Center in Newington,
where the Hartford Police Department had
placed them under quarantine for biting.
Dogfighting arrests are up sharply
across the U.S., reflecting an apparent
spread of dogfighting from beyond a traditional
tight clique of enthusiasts into a much
looser association with other street crime.
Among other noteworthy recent
dogfighting busts, self-proclaimed pit bull
rescuers Bonnie Yoho, 34, and William
Johnson, 31, were arrested with nine other
people on February 7 at Mount Gilead,
Ohio. Thirty-four alleged fighting dogs
were seized, along with the Yoho/Johnson
property. Doing business as “Acme
Kennel,” Yoho and Johnson allegedly
solicited pit bulls for “rescue” via the
Internet. The remains of one dog allegedly
obtained by that means was found at the
scene with three bullet holes in her head.
Yoho and Johnson were allowed to remain
on the property, continuing to look after the
34 dogs under court order.
Police on May 16 raided the
Kobukan Dojo martial arts studio in Union
City, New Jersey, seizing four pit bulls and
arresting 25 people on a variety of charges,
including resisting arrest, obstructing justice,
and illegal possession of knives.
In Columbus, Georgia, police
investigating a complaint about cars parked
on neighbors’ lawns found a dogfight
underway at a nearby garage on May 20.
They seized an injured dog, made five
arrests at the scene, and confiscated a video
that they hoped would not only help convict
the suspects, but also help bring the arrest
and conviction of an estimated 40 people
who fled as the police arrived.
For each big bust, there were
many frustrating cases of suspects getting
away, leaving animals behind. Animal
warden Danny Brown, of Paducah,
Kentucky, for instance discovered seven pit
bulls, a Rottweiler, and the bloody remains
of a pit bull on May 5 after answering an
abandoned dog complaint, but no human
suspect was identified. Similarly, public
housing officials in East Cleveland, Ohio,
seized four alleged fighting dogs from an
abandoned duplex on June 3. As in the
Paducah case, the humans who abused
them left no witnesses who could talk.
The Halifax Daily News, of Nova
Scotia, on May 3 bannered citizen demands
for a crackdown on streetcorner dogfights,
which seem to be gaining in popularity as
fishing declines but government-subsidized
seal-killing makes a comeback. When six
weeks later there had still been no local
dogfighting busts, the Daily News w a r n e d
that dogfighters were driving respectable
citizens out of some neighborhoods.
The Janesville Gazette, of
Janesville, Wisconsin, warned on May 4
that dogfighting has spread to rural southern
Wisconsin. Some Wisconsin dogfighters
may be using facilities and equiipment left
behind by the recent abrupt collapse of the
local greyhound racing industry.