News and Press Releases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

TUESDAY - March 15, 2011

DUPLIN COUNTY MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO CHARGES

INVOLVING FIGHTING DOGS

RALEIGH - United States Attorney George E.B. Holding announced that in federal court yesterday HARRY LOUIS HARGROVE, pled guilty before United States District Judge Terrence W. Boyle to selling, delivering, possessing, training, and transporting animals for the purposes of having the animals participate in an animal fighting venture, in violation of Title 7, United States Code, Section 2156(b), and Title 18, United States Codes, Section 49.

A Federal Grand Jury returned a Criminal Indictment on November 17, 2010.

According to information previously filed and presented in open Court, between April, 2009, and April, 2010, HARGROVE possessed, trained, sold and transported pit bulls for the purpose of engaging in animal fights, such fights being for sport, wagering and entertainment.

As part of an operation by the Duplin County Sheriff’s Office, on April 8, 2010, a controlled purchase was made of a pit bull named “Hugo” from HARGROVE for the purported purpose of fighting the animal. During the transaction, HARGROVE demonstrated Hugo’s fighting ability by having the dog engage in a fight against another dog. During the transaction, HARGROVE described other dog fights in which Hugo had fought. The transaction was audio and video recorded.

A search warrant was obtained and on April 13, 2010, executed at property belonging to HARGROVE. Officers found tools of the dog fighting trade that included a slat mill (a type of treadmill used to condition fighting dogs), a spring pole (used to strengthen the a dog’s jaws), extensive amounts of veterinary supplies, and a blood-stained fighting pit. Thirty-five dogs were also found, 34 of which had to be euthanized because of injuries or aggressive behavior. Carcasses of dogs were found on the property. Officers also found a battery and jumper cables that had been modified to allow for the electrocution of dogs.

In open court, HARGROVE admitted that he had been engaged in dog fighting for a long time and that he traveled around the South for the fights.

It is heartbreaking to see animals treated with such cruelty when individuals decide they can make money in the practice of dog fighting,” stated Mr. Holding. “We are pleased to work with both local and federal agencies in order to stop this senseless ruthlessness.”

"The USDA-Office of Inspector General is committed to the investigation and prosecution of those individuals involved in animal fighting. We will continue to work with the U.S. Attorney's Office and other law enforcement agencies toward this initiative. The Duplin County Sherriff's Department did a fantastic job in this investigation and we look forward to working with them in future endeavors," stated Karen Citizen-Wilcox, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Southeast Region.

Sheriff Blake Wallace of the Duplin County Sheriff’s Office commented, “Working with the USDA and US Attorney’s Office in the investigation and prosecution of this case has enabled us to identify and help end the needless cruelty of dog fighting in Duplin County.”

Investigation of this case was conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture and the Duplin County Sheriff’s Office, with special recognition to the Atlanta Humane Society, Norred and Associates, and the veterinarians for their assistance in the handling and evaluation of the dogs. Assistant United States Attorney Banumathi Rangarajan represented the government.

News releases are available on the U. S. Attorney’s web page at www.usdoj.gov/usao/nce within 48 hours of release.

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