Deputies discovered what appears to be a dog-fighting operation in Sumter County after finding 27 pit bulls and pit bull mixes, many emaciated or injured, chained among fighting equipment and bloodied walls.
Sumter County Sheriff’s Office deputies were serving an outstanding bench warrant for failure
to pay child support on Thursday at the Lowder Road home of 38-year-old Alva T. Ridgeway when they observed “in plain sight” a dog-fighting pit with possible animal blood on the walls and equipment typically used in dog-fighting operations, according to Public Information Officer Adrienne Sarvis. Deputies also reported they heard “numerous dogs” barking behind the residence.
Once a search warrant was obtained, deputies found other equipment consistent with dog fighting, Sarvis said, including a treadmill and “rape stand” used to force breeding.
The dogs were attached to logging chains. Many had injuries or scars “consistent with dog fighting, and many looked emaciated.”
Ridgeway was arrested and transported to the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office Detention Center, where he remained as of Thursday evening. He faces multiple charges including dog fighting and numerous counts of cruelty to animals.
“Cases of animal cruelty will always be taken seriously and prosecuted to the fullest,” Sheriff Anthony Dennis said.
Dennis said the sheriff’s office will work with animal rescue groups to see if some of the dogs can “find good homes after what they have been through.” The agency is already working with a veterinarian to treat the dogs and has reached out to state rescue organizations.
Sarvis said the incident remains under investigation.
Ridgeway pleaded guilty in 1999 to assault of a high and aggravated nature, according to public index records.
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