Arrests in Alabama dog fighting probe grow

Brad Fox with Alachua Humane Society carries one of the dogs off the property. (ASPCA)
Brad Fox with Alachua Humane Society carries one of the dogs off the property. (ASPCA)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) – The number of people arrested in a multi-state dog fighting investigation has grown to 13.

Federal court records show Jennifer Hayden McDonald, of Fairburn, Ga., was arrested last week in southern Mississippi on a conspiracy charge and was released on $25,000 unsecured bond. She has not been scheduled for arraignment in Montgomery, where the federal investigation is headquartered.

Court records say federal agents saw three people loading a dog into an SUV following a dog fight in Lee County, Ala., on April 7, 2012. The agents followed the vehicle from Alabama into Georgia. The Georgia Highway Patrol stopped the SUV for a traffic violation and found a dead pit bull inside. A veterinarian examined the dead dog and found severe wounds consistent with a recent dog fight as well as old wounds indicating the dog had been fought before.

Court records say McDonald and co-defendant Carlton Tippens were in the SUV. Tippens and 11 others from Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and Texas were arrested in late August on an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Alabama. McDonald was named in that indictment and was found last week in the Hattiesburg, Miss., area, court records show. A third person who was in the vehicle is still being sought, records show.

Investigators seized 367 pit bulls during the initial arrests in late August. Five more were seized recently in Covington County. Now, the number of dogs being held is up to 402 because some of the females had puppies after being seized. The dogs are being cared for at undisclosed locations by the Humane Society of the United States and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, a federal official said.

At the request of federal prosecutors, U.S. Magistrate Judge Charles Coody recently ruled the defendants’ lawyers can see and photograph the dogs to prepare their cases, but the lawyers can’t disclose the location of the dogs to their clients without getting approval from the judge. Prosecutors said they sought the protection because of problems in other dog fighting cases with defendants trying to steal the dogs.

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