Crime & Courts

Blood, ‘rape stand’ and emaciated dogs found at Midlands dogfighting ring bust, cops say

Nearly 30 dogs were found when a Midlands dogfighting ring was broken up.
Nearly 30 dogs were found when a Midlands dogfighting ring was broken up. Sumter County Sheriff's Office

An attempt to serve a warrant Thursday turned into deputies breaking up “a major dogfighting operation,” and possibly rescuing nearly 30 dogs, the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office said.

Deputies who went to the home of Alva T. Ridgeway to serve an outstanding bench warrant saw the signs of a dogfighting ring “in plain sight,” the Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.

On Ridgeway’s Sumter County property, deputies said they saw a dogfighting pit, with what was believed to be animal blood on the walls, along with “equipment typically used in dogfighting operations,” and the sound of many dogs barking, according to the news release.

Deputies returned with a search warrant and quickly discovered a treadmill and “rape stand,” which is used in dogfighting operations to force the animals to breed, the Sheriff’s Office said.

RIDGEWAY, Alva (1_fitted.jpeg
Alva T. Ridgeway is facing a number of cruelty to animals and dogfighting charges. Sumter County Sheriff's Office

The search also revealed 27 dogs were chained up on the property, according to the news release. The dogs were either pit bulls or pit bull mixes, and many were emaciated and had “injuries and scars consistent with dogfighting,” the Sheriff’s Office said.

In an attempt to see if the dogs can be rescued, the Sheriff’s Office said it has reached out to a veterinarian and a number of animal rescue operations in South Carolina.

“We will work with rescue groups to see if some of these dogs can find good homes after what they have been through,” Sheriff Anthony Dennis said in the news release.

The 38-year-old Ridgeway is being held in the Sumter County Detention Center, where he was charged with multiple counts of cruelty to animals and dogfighting crimes, according to the news release.

The investigation is ongoing.

“Cases of animal cruelty will always be taken seriously and prosecuted to the fullest,” Dennis said in the news release.

"We know (dogfighting) is happening," said Beaufort County Sheriff P.J. Tanner. "It will come up (when residents call to report dogfighting) or we will find some evidence of training dogs in the course of other investigations. "

Noah Feit is a Real Time reporter with The State and McClatchy Carolinas Regional Team. The award-winning journalist has worked for multiple newspapers since starting his career in 1999.
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