Officials find 34 abused pit bulls, arrest man linked to dog fighting ring in Meriwether County

Investigators found several emaciated dogs in deplorable conditions in Manchester (Courtesy: Meriwether County Sheriff's Office)
Investigators found several emaciated dogs in deplorable conditions in Manchester (Courtesy: Meriwether County Sheriff's Office)

MERIWETHER COUNTY, Ga. – One man faces more than 30 charges after multiple law enforcement and animal control agencies uncovered a dog fighting ring in Manchester Friday. The Meriwether County Sheriff’s Office arrested Sherman Holt in connection with an investigation into several emaciated dogs.

The sheriff’s office says patrol deputies were making a service call in Manchester Thursday, Oct. 28, on a small pit bull dog dragging a large chain. The chain was reportedly tied around the dog’s neck. Deputies say Holt tried to hide the dog from sight. However, the officer snapped a picture of the pit bull, which had its ribs and backbone visibly undernourished.

The following day, investigators and patrol deputies went back to a house on Chapel Hill Road in Manchester. They executed a search warrant on the home and for Holt on suspicion of cruelty to animals. Holt, 52, was arrested as he walked around from the back of the home. Deputies found a pit bull chained to a treadmill being forced to walk. Deputies also found 34 more pit bulls spanning the property, each in “various stages of emaciation.” Findings show the dogs were infested with fleas, with most of the adult dogs chained to car axles buried in the ground by large logging chains.

There were also two litters of pit bull puppies in a make shift kennel on the property. The kennel was cramped and covered in fleas, according to deputy reports. Investigators found a number of dog training and dog fighting materials, including a plastic drum filled with water. The drum had chains attached to it. Investigators believe the tank was used to make the dogs tread water.

Meriwether County Animal Control, LaGrange Animal Control, Fayette County Animal Control, and the Macon-Bibb County Animal Control departments all contributed to the investigation. The Meriwether County District Attorney’s Office is also conducting part of the investigation into this case. All of the pit bulls were sent to the previously mentioned animal control agencies.

“I am very thankful for [everyone’s] assistance and the help that they provided and continue to provide us in this case investigation,” Meriwether County Sheriff Chuck Smith said in a statement.  “All of our personnel and supporting agencies have done an outstanding job in this case.”

Holt went to Meriwether County Jail, where he was charged with one count of dog fighting, 25 counts of misdemeanor cruelty to animals, and nine counts of felony aggravated cruelty to animals. Holt met his $112,500 bond, and has been released until a court date has been set for his trial.

Stay with News 3 for continuing developments in this case.

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