The ‘dirty’ secret of dog fighting
By Melanie Ruberti
LaGRANGE – Troup County Deputy Marshal Lisa Lindsey has been on the job a year and already has dealt with dozens of cases involving alleged animal abuse and neglect.
“It’s always hard, especially when you see the animals and the horrific conditions they are living in,” she said. “It breaks your heart.”
But those calls for service still did not prepare Lindsey for what she saw last week near the Hogansville city limit.
The deputy marshal was one of several law enforcement officers who raided an alleged dog fighting ring at two homes being used by Travis Demetris Cameron.
The images still haunt her dreams.
“You could see two dogs from the road at the first residence (100 block of Woodard Road),” Lindsey remembered. “The dogs were emaciated … and had wounds all over them. There was no food (for dogs) and both houses had piles of junk everywhere … but the dogs were so sweet to us (law enforcement). They were happy to see us, but aggressive towards each other.”
Lindsey and Chief Deputy Lonza Edmondson showed the Daily News photos of the animals seized during the raid. Most of the pictures were too gruesome to share.
“We noticed one dog was tethered with heavy logging chains, which is not allowed under the county ordinance,” Edmondson said. “… None of the dogs had water, all of them were malnourished which makes them more aggressive … you could see old and new scarring on their (dogs’) face and body.”
The animal’s wounds were consistent with dog fighting said Edmondson.
One dog had a broken nose; another pit bull was missing a portion of its muzzle. A third dog had a thick, half-inch-wide scar that extended from the back of the animal’s neck to the top of its tail.
In addition to being starved, some of the pit bulls were also covered with burns, Edmondson said.
Twelve dogs were taken from the home on Woodard Road and a second house located in the 400 block of South Lee Street. The animals were placed inside the LaGrange – Troup County Animal Shelter.
Cameron remains on the run as of Tuesday evening, stated Edmondson. But the man left plenty of evidence behind.
Those items included bottles of medicine used to treat injured animals, multiple syringes, needles, several sets of pliers located inside a pen to secure heavy logging chains around the dogs’ necks and at least two treadmills that were allegedly used to condition a dog for stamina and build up their leg strength, a police report stated.
Officers also discovered what appeared to be a homemade ‘break stick,’ according to the report. Break sticks are allegedly used to pry open a pit bull’s jaw after the dog bites down on an object, animal or human being, officers explained.
All of the items were seized by the Troup County Deputy Marshal’s Office.
Cameron was charged with 12 counts of dog fighting and 12 counts of aggravated animal cruelty.
This was not his first run in with the law – nor with dog fighting.
Cameron was arrested by the Meriwether County Sheriff’s Office on Jan. 19, 2014, according to the official booking document.
He was charged with one count of dog fighting and one count of cruelty to animals, the Meriwether County Sheriff’s office stated in their report.
Cameron bonded out of the jail two days later.
Sadly, this was not the first dog fighting ring uncovered by the Troup County Deputy Marshal’s office – and will most likely not be the last.
“It’s hard to catch people holding dog fights. You have to have someone with information on the inside to tell you about it,” Edmondson said.
“People are afraid to come forward because you have other crimes to worry about,” stated Lindsey. “Along with dog fighting comes drugs and guns. If you live next door to it and tell law enforcement about it then you’re going to worry about retaliation.”
But if the suspects are caught and prosecuted, they could face time behind bars, stiff fines and a ban on owning any animals at all.
People who participate in dog fighting usually have another motive in mind. In part two of the series we will tell you how to spot potential dog fighting – and show you how one local woman is becoming the champion of animal rights. That story will run in Thursday’s edition of the LaGrange Daily News.
Melanie Ruberti is a reporter with the LaGrange Daily News. She can be reached at 706-884-7311, ext. 2156.