Reginald Dowdell was arrested on charges related to dog fighting after Jefferson County police busted a dogfighting ring in Mulga, Alabama on Monday. One deputy called the scene “gut-wrenching and heartbreaking” after authorities found several injured pit bulls and dog skulls on the property.
Reginald Antonio Dowdell, 42, was taken into custody Sunday, according to AL.com. Sheriff’s detectives obtained one felony dog fighting warrant against Dowdell Monday afternoon, and will seek additional charges on Tuesday.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Responding Deputies Found a Dog Fighting Ring with 17 Dogs, 4 Already Injured, and 11 Dog Skulls
According to the sheriff’s office, deputies received a complaint of dogs fighting in the Mulga area about 11:30 a.m. Sunday night. Once they arrived at the scene, they could hear “what sounded like dogs fighting in the woods behind a home on Main Street.”
Deputies headed into the woods behind the property, they encountered a juvenile carrying an injured dog. Once they arrived at the location of the fights, deputies found 17 pit bulls, and four that already had injuries “consistent with dog fighting,” according to AL.com. They found several more dogs shortly after.
There was a ring with fresh blood inside, according to a report released by the sheriff’s office. Investigators also recovered 11 dog skulls on the property.
2. Dowdell Was Arrested on Charges Related to Dog Fighting & One Deputy Called The Scene “Gut-Wrenching”
Responding officers were sickened by the scene. “It’s gut-wrenching and heartbreaking,” said Chief Deputy Randy Christian. “The fact that some people can see it as a sport to facilitate or be an audience for is just despicable and hard to comprehend.”
Dowdell, 42, of Mulga, was arrested on a charge related to dog fighting. He was booked into the county jail and later released on a $15,000 bond.
3. The Dogs Could Potentially Be Returned to Those Who Trained Them to Fight & Are Receiving Behavioral Tests to See If They Can Be Rehabilitated
According to WSFA, the healthier dogs are being held in an impound facility until the court decides who will take custody of them. However, there is a chance that the dogs could go back to those were were training them to fight.
“We have to wait for a judge to determine and make a decision as to whether we have custody of those dogs,” said Greater Birmingham Humane Society president Allison Black Cornelius. “And we will be asking the sheriff’s department to help us get the animals converted to our ownership because the sooner we can do that, the sooner we can start working with them.”
She said GBHS will have to use behavioral experts to determine if those dogs can be rehabilitated or if they will be put down.
4. GBHS President Allison Cornelius Asked For Prayers for the Dogs Rescued From the Ring & Calls Those Who Took Part in the Fighting “Scum Bags”
Jefferson County authorities have said Dowdell could face three additional dog fighting charges as well as 16 animal cruelty charges, on top of the dog fighting charges.
“None of us will ever forget what we saw and none of us will rest until violence like this stops,” Cornelius said. “It sickens me to think these people live and walk amongst us in our community. And the fact that these scum bags had a child on scene made me want to throw up.”
She continued: “Pray for all of these poor creatures and pray for the GBHS hands that will be trying to heal the hurts these animals have suffered over the next many many months.”
5. Dogfighting is a Blood Sport & Illegal in All 50 States
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals classes dogfighting as a “blood sport,” and suggests that the number of people involved in dogfighting in the U.S. is in the tens of thousands, although it is impossible to determine the actual number.
Although dogfighting seemed to have declined in the 90’s, many law enforcement and animal control officials claim that it rebounded in recent years with the rise of the internet making it easier for dogfighters to exchange information about animals and events.
“Dogfighting is a violent and highly secretive enterprise that is extremely difficult for law enforcement and investigative professionals to infiltrate,” the ASPCA reports. “A dogfight investigation requires many of the same skills and resources as a major undercover narcotics investigation, and challenges the resources of any agency that seeks to respond to it.”
Although most prosecutors would be happy to take on every dogfight case they could, the ASPCA states that it is hard to do because the evidence that is seized includes living creatures, which have to be taken care of maintained during the judicial process. Dog fighting is a felony in all 50 states and in the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.