Hernando Sheriff Charges Two with Animal Cruelty
Deputies seized a total of 20 adult dogs and two puppies. Deputies said the animals were used for dog fighting.
BROOKSVILLE – Two men have been charged with animal cruelty for failing to care for injured and starving dogs, according to the Hernando Sheriff’s Office.
James Harris, 61, of 810 Leonard St. in Brooksville, was charged with animal cruelty. Darryl (Darrell) Smith, 53, of 852 Twigg St. in Brooksville, was charged with animal cruelty and bait animals, both felonies, deputies said.
Hernando deputies were dispatched Sunday (Oct. 9) to Harris’ address after receiving a report that there was a severely injured dog in a cage on his property. Upon arrival, deputies and an animal enforcement officer found a brown male pit bull in a cage under the house. The dog was in distress, as he was severely injured and emaciated. Additionally, there was no food or water in his cage, deputies said.
Deputy Steven George talked with Harris who told him he had been caring for the dog since Oct. 7 when a friend, “John,” dropped the dog off. Harris was unable to provide any additional information about John. Harris told the deputy that he was aware of the medical condition of the dog; however, he did not seek treatment from a vet nor did he contact law enforcement. Harris stated he fed the dog scraps but was unable to provide proof of any food or water being given to the dog.
The animal enforcement officer examined the dog and found him to be in very poor condition, deputies said. When the dog was taken out of the cage, the distinct smell of decaying flesh was present. The dog had injuries to his face and right eye (a white discharge oozing from right eye) and a large open gash was present on his front leg above the knee joint (with bone, muscles and tendons visible – the wound was also oozing). There were many punctures to his other front leg, which was infected. It was evident that the dog had been used in dog fighting, as a “bait” dog, deputies said.
Animal Enforcement Office Many Rowe took he dog to Animal Emergency of Hernando so he could be treated by a veterinarian, who said he was most likely a “bait” dog and had been fought within the past few days.
Deputies said that further investigation revealed that a dog breeding and a dog fighting training facility could be located at the Twigg Street address. When they arrived there, deputies said they were greeted by a man wearing a T-shirt imprinted with “No Luv Kennels.” The man gave deputies permission to look around, where they observed 22 adult sized pit bulls and six small puppies. The man who allowed the deputies onto the property said he did not live or work there, but was just “there” and had the shirt on because he previously bought a dog from there.
The person who deputies were trying to locate was not there. They decided to get a search warrant for the property.
Deputy George returned to the Leonard Street address and arrested Harris and charged him with animal cruelty because he had known about the condition of the dog in his care and failed to provide care.
On Wednesday (Oct. 12), deputies and animal enforcement officers served a search warrant on the Twigg Street address. They found 19 adult dogs and two puppies. Several dogs were chained to very heavy chains. Others were caged in makeshift dog cages on the property. No food was seen and what water was present had algae in it. Deputies said the conditions on the property were deplorable.
The chart shows the weight of the dogs deputies said they found in the yard, and the weight of the chains they were chained to:
Dog Dog Weight Chain Weight
Dog A 27 pounds 6.8 pounds
Dog B 28 pounds 7.6 pounds
Dog C 28 pounds 6.2 pounds
Dog D 29 pounds 6.2 pounds
Dog E 23 pounds 14.4 pounds
Dog F 29 pounds 5.8 pounds
Dog G 23 pounds 15.4 pounds (doubled)
Dog H 23.4 pounds 7 pounds
Dog I 22 pounds 11.4 pounds
Deputies and animal enforcement officers said they found numerous items on the property indicative of a dog fighting training facility, such as:
*Pull ropes (with spring attached) hanging from trees – used to train dogs to jump, grab, and hang on.
*Antibiotics (injectable) – used when dogs are injured in a fight.
*Needles and syringes (new and used) – used to inject drugs into animals.
*Cattle wormer – used on dogs, although it is dangerous.
*Hip and joint tablets.
*Red cell builder.
*Muscle up – used to build muscle in dogs.
*Pulling harnesses – used to make dogs pull heavy items.
*Break sticks – used when dogs latch on to one another and then must be broken up.
*Several gallons of milk – used to coat dogs before a dog fight to neutralize dangerous chemicals placed on dogs that could cause harm when bitten by a dog.
*Super fuel – a body builder for dogs.
*Saline solution – used to clean out wounds on dogs.
*Bait cage – used to put small animals in to agitate fighting dogs.
*Puppy shots – Distemper, Parvo (indicating a breeding facility).
*Underwood horse medicine – veterinary use only.
*Wound care medication.
All dogs were removed and taken to Hernando County Animal Services where they were immediately evaluated and treated for any injuries. The dogs were also treated for fleas, vaccinated, and fed.
All dog fighting equipment was seized from the property. Deputies arrested Smith.
Deputies said the case remains under investigation and additional charges are pending.
For information about the Hernando sheriff, go to hernandosheriff.org.
Hernando Sheriff | Animal Cruelty | Dog Fighting | Crime | Arrests | TB Reporter
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