Dogs Rescued from Polk County Fighting Ring Moved

Some of the dogs rescued from a dogfighting ring in Polk County last month were moved Friday morning to an undisclosed location that is out-of-state.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals took 18 of the 98 dogs that were rescued and placed them into a van to move them to a new location. According to Channel 9, the SPCA are relocating the animals out of state but the exact location will not be revealed because the dogs are victims of animal cruelty.

While loading the dogs into the van, some had to be carried because they were too afraid to walk on their own.

“They’re timid because they never had any socialization or interaction with people,” said Connie Johnson of SPCA Florida. “(They) lived in a box chained up. Never seen concrete before. It’s all new.”

The original count of 61 dogs rescued from the properties rose to 98 in the past few weeks. Officials said 33 puppies were born since the raid.

Polk County sheriff’s deputies arrested Hewitt Grant II, 47, and Nickie Sanders, 44, after serving a search warrant for two of their residences.

According to Channel 9, deputies found 41 dogs at one home located on Brown Avenue in Bartow, including four dogs on the property that had been tied up with logging chains. These logging chains were used to strengthen the dogs’ necks for fighting, according to investigators.

The second property, on Dr. Martin Luther King Street in Fort Meade, held 20 dogs, including seven more with heavy logging chains.

Investigators said they believe the dogs were being bred and used to fight at both properties. The affidavit noted that a pit bull rescued from one of the residence had “severe wounds on its face and head from a recent fight.”

After finding marijuana and two handguns at the Brown Avenue property, Grant and Sanders were taken into custody and charged with animal cruelty and having animals for fighting as well as drug charges. Grant, a convicted felon, was also charged with possession of a firearm.

Grant’s criminal record includes a similar charge back in 2006 when a civil injunction was filed and he was banned from owning dogs.

“Back in 2006, we seized 138 dogs under similar conditions from him and charged appropriately, and back then (a) civil court issued a permanent injunction against him,” said Chief W.J. Martin of the Polk County Sheriff’s Department.