Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Advanced payment for care of pit bulls sought (Ed Faron, Wildside Kennels)

Advanced payment for care of pit bulls sought
by Jule Hubbard

Papers filed in Wilkes District Court today seek money in advance for costs of housing and caring for 127 pit bulls seized last week as evidence in the investigation of a case involving dog fighting.

The "petition for bond," filed by Wilkes County Attorney Tony Triplett, asked Chief Wilkes District Court Judge Mitchell McLean to enter an order requiring the payment from Edward A. Faron of Mertie Road in the Millers Creek area.

Faron, 61, was arrested Dec. 10 on one count of felony dog fighting and baiting, the same day the 127 pit bulls were seized from his Wildside Kennels, which is on Faron’s property adjacent to his home.

Triplett said the petition was filed on behalf of the Wilkes Animal Control Department. Included with the petition is an itemized list of expected costs showing $12,561 as the expected cost of housing, feeding and providing veterinary care for the 127 pit bulls for the first 30 days.

Triplett said that under state statutes, a judge can allow the filing of a new affidavit every 30 days assessing the costs of boarding the animal to a defendant. He requested that McLean hold a hearing on the petition on Jan. 8, which is when Faron could contest the request.

Under statutes, said Triplett, Faron could be required to pay the boarding costs even if he won the case.

Wilkes Animal Control Director Junior Simmons said the dogs were being kept as evidence at an undisclosed location until completion of court proceedings in the case. Simmons and other officials wouldn’t say where the dogs were taken due to concerns about possible action by animal rights groups and other security issues.

Simmons said that if the state won the case, the dogs would be euthanized, as called for under the county’s Animal Control Ordinance. He said this was based on the dogs being trained and used for fighting, which he said meant they were considered dangerous.

Faron said in an interview that he’s willing to lose everything he owns if necessary to prevent euthanization of 127 dogs seized from his Wildside Kennels, which is beside his home.

“I’ll probably end up having to file bankruptcy… as I fight to keep those dogs from dying,” he added.

Faron said he became a victim of entrapment when two men who turned out to be working as part of the law enforcement investigation targeting him, came to his home and kennel on Mertie Road on Dec. 8 and bought two full-grown female pit bulls. He said one of the two men called about three weeks earlier asking about his dogs.

Faron said the two men never said they wanted to use the two dogs themselves for fighting. They instead said they wanted to buy the two dogs “to work into their bloodlines,” which he said meant they wanted to breed them.

He said the two men entrapped him on Dec. 8 by bringing up names of well known dog fighters and other things about dog fighting and drawing him into this conversation.

Faron said he needed the money and started telling the men what he thought they wanted to hear. However, he said, when one of the two men asked him on Dec. 8 if either of the two dogs had been used for fighting, he said they had not been used for this.

Arrested at the same time as Faron on Dec. 10 on one felony count each of dog fighting and baiting were Don Juan Casanova, 18, and Amanda Grace Lunsford, 25.

Faron said that due to health problems affecting his handwriting, Casanova is authorized to sign paperwork involved with selling pit bulls from Wildside Kennels.

He said Casanova, originally from Michigan, has lived near Wildside Kennels for over two years to help with the work involved with managing kennels. Casanova said he recently became sanctioned as a confirmation judge for pit bull dog shows by the All American Dog Registry LLC.

Ms. Lunsford, originally from Taylorsville, said she has lived near there about a month and also helps with the kennel work. She said she was raised in a family involved with using pit bulls in the competitive sport of pulling weights, which is legal.

Attorneys were appointed for Faron, Casanova and Ms. Lunsford in Wilkes District Court on Friday. All three have been released from custody under secured bonds of $2,500 each. If convicted, they could be sentenced to between four and 10 months in prison.

Law enforcement officials said the investigation led them to believe Faron was one of the nation’s largest breeders of pit bulls used for fighting, but that authorities have no evidence indicating organized dog fighting occurred on or near the Wildside Kennels property.

Wilkes Sheriff Dane Mastin said the charges were filed under a section of a state dog fighting statute that makes it illegal to possess or provide dogs for dog fighting. “Baiting” refers to harassing a tethered animal.

Mastin said the charges culminated a three-year investigation involving his department, the Wilkes Animal Control Department and the Humane Society of the United States.

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