4/15 UPDATE: We were able to talk with Duplin County Sheriff Blake Wallace this morning and he gave us an update on this story.
Wallace says his department got the original tip that Harry L. Hargrove was running a dog-fighting ring on his property. He says the department had never investigated something of this magnitude, so he called the Wilson County Sheriff's Department for advice - and they led him to the Atlanta Humane Society and to Norred and Associates, which is a private investigating firm in the Atlanta area.
He also says Hargrove had only lived in Duplin County the last year or so - and was shipping many of his dogs to other owners. He said he can't confirm what AHS reports - that Hargrove was running one of the Top 5 dog-fighting rings in the country.
He says he also doesn't know where the rescued dogs are, but that they're still in the care of the AHS.
4/14 UPDATE: We wanted to follow-up on this story today, but have run up against some interesting roadblocks.
First, we checked in with the Atlanta Humane Society and the private investigators who helped initiate the raid to see where the dogs were and how they're doing. We were told that we could not see the dogs today, that they were at a secret location, and we were given very basic details as to their health. We were also told they were at that secret location so that others who fight dogs wouldn't steal them. We informed the Humane Society and the private investiagtors that video shot of the dogs inside a shelter would not tip anyone off to where they are - and that we would not disclose the location. They still refused to let us see the dogs.
We'll continue to follow this story - and let you know if we find out anything else.
4/13 UPDATE: Nadine reports Sheriff's Deputies have arrested 76-year-old Harry Louis Hargrove. Representatives from the Atlanta Humane Society tell her Hargrove's been fighting dogs for 45 years and is one of the top five dog fighters in the country. So far, they have found more than 33 pit bull and pit bull mixes alive on the farm. They've also found some dead. No word on how many. They also found medication, weights and treadmills. All in all, investigators say raiding an operation like this costs the Atlanta Humane Society $100,000 dollars.
The Duplin County Sheriff's Department is conducting a raid this morning on an alleged dog-fighting facility. The raid is expected to rescue 35-50 abused dogs and result in an arrest. Private investigators with Norred & Associates, an Atlanta-based security firm, are assisting in the rescue operation.
The raid is the result of confidential leads from a tip line sponsored by Norred & Associates. After verifying the initial lead, Norred investigators contacted the local law enforcement agency and together they conducted a joint investigation. As part of its pro-bono campaign to stop dog fighting, the Norred team has participated in 21 raids, resulting in 26 arrests and over 400 dogs rescued.
The Atlanta Humane Society has deployed their Humane Emergency Animal Rescue Team (HEART) and their fifth-wheel trailer to help evaluate and treat the dogs and transport them to an undisclosed location.
INFORMATION FROM A NEWS RELEASE SENT TO THE WWAY NEWSCHANNEL 3 NEWSROOM. NADINE MAESER IS ALSO COVERING THIS STORY - AND WILL HAVE MORE DETAILS THIS AFTERNOON.