A Fluvanna County man, Brenton Lemont Mathis, 39, was arrested without incident on Wednesday, Jan. 22, and is behind bars without bond, 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.
Last week, Mathis, showed NBC29 reporters the area where 10 Pit Bulls were kept before they were seized by authorities on Jan. 17. He claims he was not involved in dog fighting.
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’ Hayden Martin Road property on Jan. 16 and took 10 pit bulls and “training” equipment. Officials said none of the dogs were licensed.
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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.
Sheriff's Deputies believed Brenton Mathis may have been running a dog fighting ring, and showed up with crews with other state agencies at Mathis' mother's home on Thursday, January 16, with a search warrant. That is when they seized ten dogs--all American Pit Bull Terriers, Mathis says.
"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. (See photo below.)
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.
Mathis is being held without bond and was transported to the Central Virginia Regional Jail. His next hearing is set for January 28, 2014 ay 1:00 pm in Fluvanna County General District Court.
His next hearing is set for January 28, 2014, at 1:00 pm in Fluvanna County General District Court. (Fluvanna County is part of the Charlottesville Metropolitan Statistical Area.)