Pit bulls creating turmoil
The shelter is housing more than 70 pit bulls.
DAYTON (AP) -- They sink their teeth into workers, attack each other, lunge at the bars of their cages and produce a chorus of deafening howls. Dozens of muscular, high-energy pit bull terriers confiscated in dogfighting investigations are rattling the nerves of employees at the county animal shelter.
"It's something that's dangerous," 20-year-old Elizabeth Loikoc, who cares for animals at the Montgomery County Animal Control Center, said Friday. "They've got a mind-set to attack us."
The shelter is housing more than 70 pit bulls while the cases of their owners move through the courts.
"It's nerve-racking," said Turbin Peterson, who has had several uniforms torn by the dogs and was recently attacked by several pit bull puppies as he was cleaning out their cage.
"They were all over me," said Peterson, 46. "They were biting me. I'm trying to shake them off, knock them off and still get out of the cage."
Peterson is among a handful of workers who have been bitten. One worker broke her wrist when she fell backward after a pit bull made a rush at its cage door.
Some of the pit bulls claw at their steel cages, bare their teeth and growl. They have ripped stainless steel water bowls from the walls, chewed up hard plastic floor mats in their cages and destroyed drain covers. Barriers have been placed between some of the cages so the pit bulls can't see their neighbors.
"If they can get close to another dog, they're in attacking mode," said Mick Sagester, shelter supervisor. "And we have some that are aggressive to people."
People coming to the shelter looking for lost dogs are no longer allowed to stroll by the cages because it is too dangerous. They now must bring photos of their dogs to the shelter and have employees check.
Despite the aggressive nature of the dogs, workers still find themselves getting attached to them. They refer affectionately to some of them by name -- Grampy, Pablo, Rusty, Solo and Mystic Blue.
Some of the animals have scars on their muzzles and legs, and their ears have been clipped, signs they have been in fights, Sagester said.
The first of the pit bulls arrived at the shelter in July, and a second wave was came in October. They were confiscated as part of two separate dogfighting investigations by police.
Simon Denby, 33, of Dayton, and Ennis Lungs, 41, of Beaumont, Texas, have both been charged with dogfighting. They have pleaded innocent, and the dogs are being held pending resolution of their court cases.
Police confiscated some of the dogs from Denby's kennel and others -- in an unrelated case -- from Lungs' van, which had been parked in an alley. Police said the pit bulls in the van had scars, some of their ears were chewed off, and there was the presence of injectable medicines associated with dogfighting.
Police said Lungs told them he simply transports dogs and that a hypodermic needle in the van was used to administer a certain drug to puppies to transport them.
"My clients have indicated to me that they do not fight these dogs," said defense attorney John Rion, who represents both men. "Mr. Denby is a licensed kennel operator. Mr. Lungs is a reputable businessman that transports dogs all over the country for dog shows and for hunting purposes and simply for pet transport."
Dogfighting is done underground and attracts people who want to bet on the outcome or who find it entertaining, said Eric Sakach, director of the west coast regional office of The Humane Society of the United States. Sakach has witnessed about a dozen pit-bull fights while working undercover with the Humane Society.
"It will be just a frenzied blur of biting," he said.