Anthony Bellamy of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, has been ordered to trial in Dauphin County Court on charges of organizing dog fights and corruption of minors.
Bellamy, 42, was arrested when Harrisburg city police received a complaint on January 26 from a neighbor reported hearing commotion from his backyard in the 300 block of South 13th Street.
Authorities said officers heard growling and yelping and discovered a makeshift dog fighting ring made of plywood. Police said they first saw Bellamy holding a leash for a Bullmastiff and a juvenile holding a Pit Bull, which they were pushing together to force them to fight while another juvenile recorded the cruelty on a cell phone.
The Bullmastiff was named Money, and the Pit Bull, Duchess, was owned by Bellamy. Both dogs were injured and bloody on their faces, chests and necks as Bellamy and the minors encouraged them to attack each other. The snow was soaked with blood, according to investigators.
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The dogs were taken to the Humane Society of Harrisburg for care.
Senior District Judge Paula P. Correal sent the charges of animal fighting and corruption of minors against Bellamy to court after a preliminary hearing on February 25. Bellamy was released on bail, but ordered to have no contact with animals.
Kaitlin Becker, assistant director of the Central Pennsylvania Animal Alliance, is taking care of Duchess, now renamed “Clementine,” until she finds a new, loving home.
Clementine was never a fighting dog, Becker says. Officials said Bellamy used her to breed dogs for fights, and that she is very friendly.
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Becker told ABC27 that the city’s dog fighting problem is becoming dire. “It goes on in people’s backyards and people don’t realize it,” she said.
What's worse, she pointed out, is when neighbors call in tips but the rings are cleaned up before police have time to respond.
She blamed much of the problem on the lack of requiring owners to license their dogs, which establishes accountability and provides greater ability to enforce all other laws regarding care or cruelty.
According to a December report by The Burg, the city's dog population is about 10,600. Dogs over three months old are required to have a license, but officials said there are fewer than 1,000 licensed dogs in Harrisburg.
"There is a lack of enforcement," Becker said. "I think it's also people don't realize they have to do it."
Given the $20 yearly fee, 10,600 dogs would generate $212,000 in revenue. Instead, the city has received about $8,000 in license revenue during each of the last three years, according to the Controller's Office. Compare those figures with the fact that the city has spent almost $100,000 in taking care of abandoned dogs.
Becker hopes if anything else, those figures would encourage more people to notify police about dog fighting and animal abuse. She hopes people will dial the CPAA's Dog Fighting hotline at 717-836-7961.
"There's a lot of dogs that have come out of the City of Harrisburg unfortunately with scars on them that show signs of dog fighting in their past," Becker said.