COLUMBIA (WACH) -- Officials in Richland County announced the arrests of two additional suspects connected to a dogfighting ring that was broken up last month.
Sheriff Leon Lott said Thursday 60-year-old James Earl Green and 31-year-old Jason Lundees Washington were arrested.
Officials say Green is charged with three counts of felony animal cruelty and four counts of dog fighting. Washington is charged with two counts of dog fighting.
"Tuesday October 18, Green turned himself in to deputies," Lott said at a press conference. "Upon investigation, it was determined the suspects used box cutters or scissors to cut the ear off of three puppies between four and five weeks of age."
Three additional suspects were arrested last month after officials broke up the operation on Camp Ground Road on September 9.Related Stories... Foundation in place to help offset cost of recovered pit bulls More dog fighting arrests made, animals need foster homes Deputies bust suspected dog fighting ring, make one arrest
The 24 dogs involved remain in the custody of the Richland County Sheriff's Department as part of their investigation. One of the dogs had puppies bringing the total to 27 dogs in need of care.
All of the dogs have received medical treatment, including shots and tracking microchips. Some dogs are being fostered. Others are still in need of temporary homes. Authorities intend to give the rescued animals better lives.
Sheriff Lott said, I found something out today that just, it kills me, it disturbs me, all other dogs in our state that have been seized in dog fighting rings were all killed, they were killed, they were killed by us, those who rescued the dogs.
We are so glad that Sheriff Lott is really making a stand on this, this is wonderful, according to Deloris Mungo, President of Pawmetto Lifeline.
That stand is changing the way dogs are rescued.
The easiest thing that could have been done is to put these animals down, but that TMs not the right thing, we are going to do the right thing, Sheriff Lott said.
To make sure they are providing the best care possible, Pawmetto Lifeline is bringing in experts from New York that were involved with the Michael Vick dog fighting ring. Next week consultants from the Animal Farm Foundation will be in Columbia to evaluate each dog and address each of their needs.
Tracy Johnson with Pawmetto Lifeline said, The worst thing we could do is go into this with ignorance and place these dogs in a situation which would only hurt them and hurt their breed in general so we want to make sure this is a shining example not just of our community but for the state.
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.
A foundation has also been setup 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.