MERIWETHER COUNTY, Ga. — Meriwether County Animal Control is trying to get custody of more than 30 pit bulls after their owner was arrested and charged with animal cruelty and dog fighting. Sheriff Chuck Smith says the suspect in this case, 52-year-old Sherman Holt, was released on a $112,500 bond.
The investigation was sparked after a deputy on patrol spotted the suspect walking one of the dogs with a large chain. The investigation eventually lead to a Chapel Hill Road home where they found 33 additional pit bull breed dogs.
Meriwether County Animal Control Director Jazmin Palomera-Storey says the dogs are in bad shape, but on their way to getting better.
“You go in and you get this initial shock and once you’ve been there, I mean I worked here from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m. that night and you kind of get numb after awhile of seeing it,” she explains.
She was there as they rescued the 34 dogs from the Chapel Hill Road home.
“Every dog was covered in fleas. They had roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms. They’re just filthy.” she says.
In addition to animal cruelty charges, Holt is also charged with one count of dog fighting.
“We have no indication at all that there was dog fighting going on on the property, but we do believe that this individual was breeding the animals and also training the animals for such criminal activities,” Sheriff Smith says.
Palomera-Storey says Holt refused to surrender the dogs upon his release from jail. Now, animal control is petitioning for custody of all the dogs.
“I have to make sure that they have a notice of impoundment for every animal and we have to serve him with this and he has so many days to respond,” she says.
“After his response, we have to host a hearing basically an emergency hearing to determine who is going to have custody of these animals.”
If they do get custody of the dogs, Palomera-Storey says they have an SPCA team in Ohio that will come take the dogs to a rehabilitation center up there.
Meriwether Animal Control is taking donations at their shelter. They ask for dog food and flea killing medicine, Capstars. You can also donate to the Hendricks Animal Clinic in Shiloh.
The rest of the dogs are being housed in LaGrange, but they are in the process of bringing all of the dogs to the Meriwether County Animal Shelter.
Holt is set to appear in superior court in December.