Search for drugs leads to discovery of “bait dogs” (7-24-15)

MARIANNA (KATV) – Police officers executing a search warrant on a home near downtown Marianna found what they were looking for – but ended up uncovering the makings of a dog fighting operation. Humane Society volunteers in nearby Helena claim it’s an ongoing issue in the Delta.

On Friday morning around 5:30 AM, Marianna Police served a search warrant at 144 S. Liberty Street, looking for cocaine and marijuana. Investigators discovered both drugs, individually wrapped and ready for sale. But when the searched the rest of the house and the yard – they found animal abuse.

“We went in the backyard and stumbled across about ten dogs in cages,” said Chief Martin Wilson, Marianna Police.

It ended up being 13 adult dogs, plus eight puppies. The adult pitbulls were all hidden inside a small fenced-in area, subdivided with tiny cages. Wilson said he witnessed four pitbulls caged together in one container, barely able to move.

In addition to the cages, there was a deer carcass tied to a tree, complete with spring and rope to help allegedly “train” the dogs. Most of the dogs found at the home were considered “bait” dogs.

“There was also a treadmill that they had been using to actually run the dogs,” said Beth Florek, director of the Humane Society of the Delta in West Helena.

Florek said they also used a “training circle” to train the dogs, similar to how horses are trained in a corral. All of the dogs are now currently in the Humane Society’s custody.

The Humane Society had all of the animals checked out with a veterinarian in Helena. Now the dogs are being housed inside, and have to be kept locked up due to a history of dog fighting in the Delta.

“A couple of years ago people let our dogs out and used our dogs as bait dogs to train their pits,” commented Florek, adding they also had pitbulls stolen from their shelter for use in dog fights.

The Humane Society will continue to hold onto the dogs until their day in court, since they are now evidence in the case against David Carter and Marilyn Florence. Carter and Florence face charges of intent to distribute cocaine and marijuana – and now animal cruelty.

“We’re not going to tolerate it here in Marianna,” said Chief Wilson. “We’re going to do everything we can do to get to the bottom of it, find out what’s going on and deal with it accordingly.”

Wilson said he was so surprised that the dog training operation was kept so underwraps. He mentioned no complaints of barking dogs or smells, despite the home being so close in proximity to other homes in the area. Wilson hopes residents will keep an eye out for things like dog fighting and report it to the police.


Incident ID # 200137


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