|By Bob Weaver|
Investigators from the Humane Society of the US spent Friday at the Edward Barrera property south of Arnoldsburg investigating what role the elderly Calhoun man had to illegal dog fighting.
They discovered pieces of equipment and implements that are used to increase the temperament of dogs for the illegal activity, according to Animal Control officer Bob Groves.
An investigator for the Humane Society said some of the dogs were violent and abrasive, and had old wounds.
Barrera's body was discovered a week ago inside his residence south of Arnoldsburg, leaving behind 32 dogs, most of them pit bulls. Officials indicated he had been dead two or three weeks.
About a half dozen dogs died from apparent lack of water and food, authorities said.
Groves was instrumental in obtaining assistance to look into the matter and take care of the animals, with the Humane Society removing and placing most of the dogs.
"A few have been taken by local residents," Groves said.
Sgt. O. S. Starsick of the Grantsville detachment said, "We're still looking into a number of aspects of the case," including an earlier robbery and assault on the 87-year-old man which resulted in his going to a hospital.
The robbery and assault was investigated by the Calhoun Sheriff's Department.
Barrera variously claimed one or more hooded figures came to his house, assaulted him and took $800.
"The State Police just dealt with finding his remains. There was no apparent signs of foul play or nothing appeared missing from the house," Sgt. Starsick said, which resulted in the State Police and Medical Examiner Stacy Harlow not sending the remains for forensic evaluation.
Sgt. Starsick indicated if Humane Society investigators find leads about how Barrera's dogs were being used, the investigation could be expanded.
Animal Control Officer Groves indicated Barrera had some criminal history before moving to Calhoun.
Earlier this year, Barrera was arrested in his truck in Jackson County with one-and-one-half pounds of marijuana, prompting officials to say he was likely the oldest person in West Virginia arrested on drug charges.
He had been released on bond.
Dog fighting is generally used for gambling and entertainment, in which game dogs are made to fight, sometimes to the death.
The Humane Society of the US says "man's best friend" may fight to the death in dogfights, often with tens of thousands of dollars at stake at the event.
Dog-fighters sometimes kill the losing dogs, and even winning dogs may die from their wounds. Police often discover drugs, guns, and even murder in connection with dogfights, according to the Humane Society of the US.
The Humane Society is the nation's largest animal protection organization, backed by 11 million Americans, directed toward reducing suffering and improve the lives of all animals by advocating for better laws.