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      Foundation in place to help offset cost of recovered pit bulls

      Photo Credit: FILE

      RICHLAND COUNTY (WACH) -- Richland County officials are hoping for your help in the recovery of pit bulls rescued from a dog fighting ring in September.

      Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott says a foundation has been set up to help assist and offset the costs of caring for the dogs.

      If you're interested, you can call Pawmetto Lifeline at 803-622-4748 or send a check to the Richland County Sheriff's Foundation at 5623 Two Notch Road, Columbia, SC 29202.

      The 24 dogs have received shots and tests and are available for fostering.

      Three suspects were arrested last month following the dog fighting ring on Camp Ground Road that was broken up by deputies on September 9.

      Deputies brought four animals to a news briefing late last month, three of them were puppies, all of them missing ears. Investigators say a veterinarian tells them the dogs' ears were likely cut off with scissors by people training them to fight.

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      "These are what people are taking and turning into vicious animals, they are not vicious animals and shouldn't be," said Lott about the pit bulls, which were extremely playful.

      Investigators are hoping to get the dogs into foster homes. Right now, they cannot be permanently adopted because they are considered evidence in the case. Authorities want people to know there are misconceptions about pit bulls, and that they are not simply vicious by nature, rather they are trained to be that way.

      "If you get one like this and it's never trained to fight I don't believe that it's going to just one day snap and become a crazy dog and start killing other dogs," said Investigator Holly Wagner of the Richland County Sheriff's Department. "I just don't believe that."

      Dog fighting is illegal in all 50 states, and while the Humane Society of the United States says there are not accurate statistics about dog fighting, they estimate roughly 100,000 people in the U.S. participate in the dangerous bloodsport that is often associated with illegal gambling and drug trafficking.