Police: Local dogfighting operations busted

By Andrew Wittenberg  - bio | email | Twitter

RANDOLPH COUNTY, ALA (WTVM) - Officials in Randolph County believe they've put an end to a dogfighting operation, possibly more than 25 years in the making.

William Alsabrook, 54, of Newell and Artis Kyles, 34, of Roanoke were charged with felony counts of possessing fighting dogs.

Their legal battle is just beginning, after 45 dogs, malnourished and bred to fight, were found during separate raids on each suspect's property.

But for the animals, the journey is just beginning.

One dog's bark was a sound made after years of abuse, torture, and neglect, a sight that would make animal lovers cringe.

In one day, one moment in time, and after years of abuse, they were freed.

"We executed two search warrants at the same time," Randolph County Sheriff Jeff Fuller said.

Authorities on the scene said Alsabrook had advertised in underground dogfighting publications dating back to the 1970's.

Members from the Randolph County Sheriff's Department, the Humane Society of the United States, and the ASPCA all put up a fight for these dogs that had allegedly been forced to fight for years.

Dr. Melinda Merck, of the ASPCA, was one of the doctor's on the scene, treating the dogs.

"There's a certain pattern we look for that is consistent with dog fighting and that's different than other dogs normally fighting and so that's what we're seeing and that's what we're looking for," Dr. Merck said.

So, where do these dogs go from here?

They cannot simply be placed with a new owner.

Their physical and emotional scars could lead to aggressive behavior, according to John Goodwin with the Humane Society of the United States.

"The first goal is to get them into a safe shelter and that's going to be a secret location so that no dogfighters can come and steal them back," Goodwin said.

The second step is rehabilitation.

They will receive food, water, proper shelter, a behavioral exam, and any necessary medical treatment...something the doctors on the scene said these dogs haven't seen in years.

"Looking at the housing of the animals, this has been going on for a while," Dr. Merck said.

"You can tell by how the setup is, how long it's been going on. It's not something brand new or something they're dabbling in," Dr. Merck said.