The court case against a Fluvanna County man, Brendon Mathis, accused of running a dog fighting ring, is moving forward as scheduled.
On Tuesday, February 18, a judge at the Fluvanna County General District Court heard evidence against Brendon Lemont Mathis, 39, during a probable-cause hearing. Mathis is facing eight counts of felony animal fighting, one felony count of possessing a firearm as a convicted felon and 10 misdemeanor counts of failure to care for an animal.
The judge also heard testimony by two officers and a veterinarian about the conditions of the Pit Bulls on Mathis’ property and about the literature on rules for dog fights, as well as cages and a device used to strengthen a pit bull’s jaws that were found on the property.
The veterinarian tested that three of the 10 dogs seized had evenly filed-down teeth, and that 8 had scarring consistent with dog fighting.
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Mathis is due back in court on Monday, Feb 24. He is continuing to be held without bond.
Brendon Lemont Mathis, 39, of Fluvanna County, was arrested without incident on Wednesday, Jan. 22, and charged with eight felony counts of fighting animals for sports. He is also charged with 8 counts of animal cruelty and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He was held without bond.
Mathis, showed NBC29 reporters the area where 10 Pit Bulls were kept before they were seized by authorities on Jan. 17 (see photo below.) He claimed he was not involved in dog fighting.
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Court records show that in 1995, Mathis pleaded guilty of robbery in Albemarle Circuit Court. The judge in that case sentenced Mathis to 12 years in prison, but suspended 11 years.
Deputies, aided by the regional Dog Fighting Task Force, raided Mathis’ mother's Hayden Martin Road property on Jan. 16, taking 10 Pit Bulls and “training” equipment. Officials said none of the dogs were licensed.Veterinarians working with the task force took blood samples and also tested feces. Charges were not filed initially because authorities were waiting for results from those tests, officials said.
In an interview with the Review on Friday, Jan. 17, Mathis said he did not fight the dogs and took good care of them. He referred to the dogs as pets and said most were puppies.
"I'm trying to figure out why they took the animals and why I didn't have a chance to explain to them and show them these animals," Mathis said.
In the woods about 30 feet behind his mother's home are two large cages, several doghouses and a wide-open, muddy space. There are two, 20 by 10 foot kennel runs and a 40-foot run. He also has a large shelter that is fenced, NBC29 reports.
Mathis said the open space has never served as a dog fighting ring. Mathis says he and his family have been raising pit bulls for 15 years, breeding them occasionally.
He says investigators took a canine treadmill and a cowhide in as evidence. Cowhides can be used to strengthen dogs' jaws, but Mathis contends it was "simply a toy," according to the Review Journal.
Both Mathis and his mother both said there has never been a dog fighting ring on the property.