During a routine traffic stop on Interstate10 in Gautier, Georgia, nine Pit Bulls and dog fighting paraphernalia were found in the back of a Chevrolet Suburban driven by Joseph Bates, Jr.
Officer Richard Davis said he had only planned to give Bates a warning for a traffic violation until he saw the Pit Bulls in the SUV. He also found dog-training weights, which are usually hung on a chain around a dog's neck to build upper-body strength when it is being conditioned for dog fighting.
Several of the dogs were injured and one had severe bite wounds to its face, neck and legs, said Commander Keith Havard of the South Mississippi Metro Enforcement Team's Criminal Interdiction Unit.
Joseph Bates, Jr., 41, of Fairburn, Ga., was arrested on seven counts of dog fighting, nine counts of animal cruelty and nine counts of failure to provide the dogs' rabies-shot records, Havard said.
The dogs were taken to the Jackson County Animal Shelter and will be held and cared for until the investigation is completed and a decision is made as to whether they will be returned to their owner, officials said.
Commander Havard said an expert is being brought in to check the dogs' wounds as part of the investigation. The expert will determine if the injuries and any residual scarring is consistent with what occurs during dog fighting.
The judge could decide what will happen to the dogs, Havard said.
Bates remains in the Jackson County Adult Detention Center, with bonds set at $362,000.
The South Mississippi Metro Enforcement Team is comprised of agents from the Pascagoula, Gautier and Moss Point police departments.