Newly released photos show injuries to some of the 27 dogs rescued from an apparent dog-fighting operation last week and just how much bigger the chains used to tether them were than allowed.
Alva Timmons Ridgeway faces up to a combined 137 years …
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Alva Timmons Ridgeway faces up to a combined 135 years in prison and $135,000 in fines if he is found guilty of only the 27 counts of animal fighting and baiting, according to Sumter County Sheriff's Office Public Information Officer Adrienne Sarvis.
He also has been charged with 24 counts of misdemeanor ill treatment of animals, three counts of felony ill treatment of animals, one count of facilitating animal fighting and baiting, one count of possession of a firearm by a violent felon and one count of possession of a stolen vehicle valued at more than $10,000.
Deputies found the dogs and equipment consistent with dog fighting and training when they were executing a search warrant after originally being there to serve an outstanding bench warrant for contempt of family court.
The photos show bite marks and scars, including one dog's ear that had been split.
Silver chains put next to dirtied chains tethered to the dogs on Ridgeway's Lowder Road property show the old ones about twice as big as the silver ones, which are in accordance with the county's tethering ordinance.
Chains used to tether dogs cannot be heavier than a 2-gauge chain and must be at least 15 feet long.
A tethered dog must be able to reach shade, shelter, food and water and cannot be sick or injured, Sarvis said. Some of the chains used to tether dogs at Ridgeway's property were six feet in length and were larger than a 2-gauge link.
A veterinarian has confirmed the injuries to the dogs, which are being cared for at the Sumter County Animal Shelter, were caused by dogs.
Two dogs remain in severe condition, one because of an infection from untreated facial wounds and another because of an infection from repeated breeding.
Sarvis said another part of the dogs' rehabilitation will include evaluations from an outside organization to determine if the animals can be adopted. While some of the dogs are receptive to human interaction, they could become aggressive if triggered by a specific moment, other animals or objects that resemble equipment used for fighting and training.
"We certainly want to save as many dogs as we can, but we also want to protect the public should some of these dogs be too aggressive to take home," Sheriff Anthony Dennis said. "We appreciate the community's encouragement so far and the offers to foster or adopt these dogs."
Investigator Robert Reynolds said during Ridgeway's bond hearing on Tuesday that the suspect had signed over all the dogs to the county.
Ridgeway had not posted his total $137,000 bond, which was set Tuesday, as of Wednesday evening.
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