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.
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.