HOLLYWOOD, Ala. (WHNT) — Investigators in Jackson County said the third man accused of involvement in a dog fighting operation turned himself in Tuesday morning.
Police obtained arrest warrants last week for 31-year-old Christopher Eugene Allen.
Officers arrested 61-year-old Richard L. Humphrey on March 8 and charged him with dog fighting and receiving stolen property. Jackson County deputies arrested 32-year-old James Lopaze Allen of Stevenson on March 13. He is also charged with dog fighting.
Jackson County investigators rescued 10 pit bulls from the suspected fighting operation.
Hollywood Police Chief Jason Hepler and Lieutenant Luke Ballard said the County Road 36 property where they found the dogs was like a dog concentration camp. Some dogs had head injuries and one had a broken leg. Police also found skeletal remains of other dogs.
Hepler said investigators found a four-wheel all-terrain vehicle at Charles L. Humphrey’s home on Humphrey Lane. It was reported stolen from Fort Payne in 2011.
“I talked to the investigator out there and and they said two years ago yesterday to the day, the day that we seized it,” Hepler said about the coincidental March 8 theft and recovery.
There is a metal contraption built on the back of the ATV, which had a leash attached.
“They tie it to the dog’s harness and they would drive off with the dog running behind it, forcing the dog to run and get exercise,” Chief Hepler said.
Investigators found other items at Humphrey’s home they said are consistent with those used for training dogs, including different harnesses with weights attached to make the dogs stronger, devices on trees to hang dogs, and different items the dogs can bite.
Chief Hepler said during the interview process, Humphrey told officers he used to fight dogs but does not anymore. Police said Humphrey claimed he did not know what the training devices were, and told them the 10 rescued pit bulls were not his dogs.
Investigators said that was a lie.
“I know that these particular dogs have been transported back and forth to Birmingham and to other places to fight,” the Hollywood police chief said.
Friday’s arrest was the culmination of a six-month investigation which began with complaints about fighting and then an ongoing series of tips from informants.
“This is actually the first dog fighting case we’ve ever worked,” Chief Hepler said.
“Had we had some experience with it, we might have been able to solve it a little bit faster but putting a case like this together is completely foreign territory for us,” he said.
Dog fighting is a Class C Felony with a punishment of one to 10 years in prison. Chief Hepler said Humphrey is employed by the City of Scottsboro in the streets department.
“We still have others at large. We’re going to secure felony warrants on them, and hopefully we’ll be able to get them then,” Chief Hepler said.
Scottsboro Animal Control took the 10 pit bulls to their shelter to provide treatment for injuries and starvation. Prosecutors filed a civil lawsuit against James and Christopher Allen to make them pay for the cost of care for the 10 dogs.
Chief Hepler said officials hope to find homes for the dogs, and WHNT News 19 will let you know when any become available for adoption.