KEARNEYSVILLE, W.Va. — Twenty-one pitbulls were recovered from a Bowers Road house following an early morning raid by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department on an alleged dogfighting kennel.
At 6:30 a.m., Jefferson County deputies, with assistance from the Humane Society of the United States and Jefferson County Animal Control officers, executed a search warrant at the Bowers Road residence of Steve Curtis Jennings, 54.
Police say deputies found equipment used for training and facilitating fights, as well as dog crates and scales for weighing the dogs, so as to be able to match them up for fights. While searching the property, deputies located the pitbulls in a wooded area behind the house, where they were kept chained to logs and housed in plastic barrels, court documents show.
A local veterinarian with the Humane Society checked the dogs and discovered 14 of them had scars on their neck, face and fore legs consistent with dogfighting, according to police.
Jennings was taken into custody and later arraigned in Jefferson County Magistrate Court on 14 counts of animal fighting, a felony offense that carries up to five years in prison and $5,000 in fines.
Sheriff Pete Dougherty said the investigation preceding the search warrant, which involved an undercover purchase of a dog for alleged dogfighting purposes, took “a long time to work.” He said the Humane Society was “instrumental” in working the case.
“They brought it to our attention that this was potentially a criminal dog fighting operation,” he said.
“They were very helpful in identifying the signs of a dogfighting breeding enterprise.”
Dogfighting – not just in Jefferson County, but in general- is not a common crime, Dougherty noted.
According to Dougherty, the case had a happy ending. The dogs were handed over to the Humane Society for shelter and medical attention and Jennings signed a waiver in which he would not be legally able to fight for the dogs’ custody, the sheriff said.
“The good news is these dogs will be well taken of,” he said. “The Humane Society operates no-kill shelters, so none of these dogs will be euthanized.”
As of Thursday, Jennings was being held at Eastern Regional Jail on $250,000 bail.