Eight suspects were arrested by Florence County sheriff’s deputies early Saturday morning when they discovered a dog fight in progress at a vacant lot behind 5104 Heyward Road. The officers had initially gone to that location as part of a lengthy drug investigation, WFMB News reports.
Many suspects attempted to run but were taken into custody in nearby woods and a field, according to a posting by Florence County Sheriff Kenney Boone.
One suspect was taken into custody after a dog involved in fighting “took him down,” the posting states. Another pit bull was turned over to Florence County Environmental Services, but the dog who stopped the suspect escaped.
The sheriff’s office says it is now obtaining additional search warrants in regard to the possible dog fighting ring.
Edward Windham, 32, of 913 Chesterfield Drive in Florence, was the only one of the arrestees who remained in custody as of Monday at 12:30 p.m. The others were released on Sunday morning. The Florence County Detention Center Websites showed that Windham is charged with one count of animal fighting or baiting and was served with four magistrate’s court bench warrants.
The seven men who were released around 9:30 a.m. on Sunday are:
- Walter Taylor, 59, of 903 Mechanic Street, Florence. Charged with one count of animal fighting or baiting.
- Rodney Cooper, 33, of 715 Java Road, Florence. Charged with one count of animal fighting or baiting.
- Brandon Williams, 32, of 2719 Ed James Road, Effingham. Charged with one count of animal fighting or baiting.
- Harold Small, 35, of 3209 Plantation Drive, Florence. Charged with one count of animal fighting or baiting and one count of first-offense possession of 1 ounce or less or marijuana or 10 grams or less of hash.
- George McCall, 36, of 619 Brunson Street, Florence. Charged with one count of animal fighting or baiting.
- Daniel Parks, 34, of 1309 Earl Court, Florence. Charged with one count of animal fighting or baiting.
- Benjamin Harrison, 38, of 5824 Pamplico Highway, Florence. Charged with one count of animal fighting or baiting and first-offense possession of cocaine.
A temporary dog fighting ring had been constructed. Other items of evidence seized including four vehicles, three firearms, a small amount of powder cocaine and marijuana and $2,847 dollars, SCNow reports.
“It’s difficult for one agency to actually crack one of these rings,” said Captain Michael Nunn with the Florence County Sheriff’s Office. “That’s why you don’t see it more prominently in prosecutions and apprehensions, but we do the best we can.”
“The individuals engaged in these activities do so secretively and underground,” Nunn continued. “They are highly secretive about where and when the dog fights are going to take place. It’s a tight circle on individuals, it’s very difficult to break into those circles.”
Up to a $5,000 reward is offered by The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) for information leading to the arrest and conviction of any person involved in illegal animal fighting. Call 877-TIP-HSUS (877-847-4787). Callers’ identities are protected.