Dog fighting suspected at Nassau County home

YULEE, Fla. -- It was the second time investigators had been to George Scoates' Yulee home, the second time they seized his seven dogs.

Nassau County Animal Control is now asking the courts for permission to keep the dogs, to ban Scoates from possessing other animals and to require him to pay for the care of the animals.

Investigators believe the dogs were being used for the purpose of training dogs for use in the illegal and cruel activity of dog fighting.

They told the court that there's mounting evidence, such as IV solution bags hanging in the cages, "bait" dogs, a Patterdale, which is used to train fighting breed; and they found skeletal remains in a pen containing feral pigs. Investigators told the court that feral pigs are a common method used by those who keep and train fighting dogs, to dispose of evidence, including the remains of dogs killed in training or fighting.

"It is a civil matter now," said Joe Novello. "I am reserving comment on criminal charges at this point."

Pet advocates say dog fighting is ugly,dangerous and illegal.

"Dog fighting is barbaric. The animals have no choice," said Dr. Alana Canupp.

Canupp is with First Coast No More Homeless Pets. She is not affiliated with the Yulee case, but she has experience investigating dog fighting cases.

"It is sickening, it is sickening. The animals have no choice," said Canupp.

In this case, investigators found seven dogs at Scoates' home. Scoates, who was recently arrested for having Oxycontin and Adderall, controlled substances without a prescription, was not home for comment.

Investigators said Scoates is unable, unwilling or unfit to take care of the dogs. He was issued civil citations and the dogs were taken into custody.

Scoates has not been charged with dog fighting, but investigators found several dogs had scarring consistent with dog fighting and there is other mounting evidence.

"Dog fighting is very hard to catch," said Canupp.

Canupp said where ever there is evidence of dog fighting, the community should be concerned.

"With dog fighting, drugs are involved, guns are involved," she said, "There's a lot of evidence that where there is the abuse of animals, there's the abuse of children."

Novello said a hearing is scheduled for May 16 in Nassau County Courts.


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