Dozens of dogs killed after fighting ring found

BY EMILY LE COZ
Daily Journal

BENTON COUNTY – One man was arrested and 49 pit bulls euthanized after an alleged dog-fighting ring was discovered Monday morning here off Highway 7 south.

Lee Thompson, of 2659 Highway 7, likely will be charged today with several counts of dog fighting and animal cruelty, said Benton County Chief Deputy David Murphy, who could not immediately provide Thompson's age.

“I'm sure this is part of a larger ring,” Murphy said from Thompson's residence later that evening. “In north Mississippi, this is becoming a big sport for people now, unfortunately.”

Murphy discovered the alleged ring while serving Thompson a narcotics indictment at his home. Thompson, who was at the front door when deputies arrived, darted to the back of the house, Murphy said. It was here that officers found the dogs.

“Some of the dogs were missing eyes, some of them couldn't even walk right, some of them had heads that were all messed up,” Murphy recalled. “It's just pitiful. It just breaks your heart.”

A subsequent search warrant turned up all the dogs and the physical ring where they likely were fought.

All dogs – including more than one dozen puppies – were released to the sheriff's department and euthanized that evening by Tupelo veterinarian Isis Johnson.

Johnson said it's a shame to put down so many animals but warned that their deaths are the result of the illegal sport.

“These are gaming dogs, and they're bred to fight,” said Melissa Chipman, president of the Marshall County Humane Society, which was called to the scene. “Even the puppies have tendencies to fight other animals and even people.”

Chipman said she's seen other dog-fighting rings before, but this is by far the biggest.

Contact Daily Journal city reporter Emily Le Coz
at 678-1588 or emily.lecoz@djournal.com.