|FIRST DOGFIGHTING ARREST IN WV UNDER NEW LAW|
By Bob Weaver
A Calhoun man is facing felony charges related to the alleged dogfighting activities of 87-year-old Edward Barrera, whose body was found dead in his residence near Orma in December.
Calhoun Chief Deputy Carl Ballengee says 30-year-old Dwayne Smith, a neighbor of Barerra's, was arrested and charged Tuesday for his alleged involvement in a dogfighting operation.
A criminal complaint says Smith gave a voluntary videotaped statement that he handled, trained and engaged in dog fighting with Barrera.
Smith, according to the complaint, said that he had buried as high as 27 dogs in one day for Barrera, reportedly linked to fight activities.
The complaint says that Smith, in his statement, said that hundreds of dogs are buried on the hill behind Barrera's house, or "numbers he cannot even begin to count."
He has been released on bond.
Ballengee said it is the first dogfighting arrest in West Virginia since a state statute was changed in 2003 to list dogfighting as a felony offense.
The criminal complaint indicates hat Smith said the last dog fight happened two months ago.
Chief Deputy Ballengee said, "We believe there's evidence there to show there was dog fighting occurring there at the residence,
indicating the activity could extend beyond the local area.
Officials from the Humane Society of the United States and Pit Bull Haven were in the county yesterday, both groups have taken active stances against illegal dogfighting.
The discovery of Barrera's dogs and dogfighting equipment happened after his body was discovered, officials indicating he had been dead two or three weeks.
Barrera reported that he had been beaten and robbed of $800 by an intruder, several weeks before his body was discovered. He was taken to a hospital and treated for multiple blows and wounds to his head.
Janette Reever, deputy manager of the animal fighting law enforcement unit of the Humane Society of the United States, said Barrera was previously involved in dog fighting before moving to Calhoun.
Reever called him a "well-known figure" in the dog-fighting scene.
Calhoun County officials called in the national humane group in December after 26 dogs were discovered chained, starving and freezing behind Barrera's house. Seven dogs had died.
"The investigation is still ongoing at this times," said deputy Ballengee.
More to follow...
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