Case Snapshot
Case ID: 11309
Classification: Fighting
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Person(s) in animal care
Drugs or alcohol involved
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Tuesday, Apr 24, 2007

County: Harrison

Charges: Felony CTA
Disposition: Alleged

» Maxwell Landry
» Constance Jean Courtney
» John Wesley Black

Case Updates: 2 update(s) available

Several people have been arrested for running a dog fighting ring. The bust happened in the overnight hours at a home on Vidalia Road in Harrison County on April 24.

Nearly 50 dogs were seized both in Harrison County, Mississippi and St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana, as part of a federal investigation that turned up a large fighting dog breeding and training operation in Pass Christian, Miss.

Harrison County Sheriff George Payne Jr. said the operation was discovered when warrants were being served on two men as part of a Drug Enforcement Agency investigation. Payne said 41 dogs were confiscated in Pass Christian and an animal protection organization said six more were taken in Louisiana's St. Bernard Parish.

"Our information is ... Mississippi was where they were keeping the animals and training the animals and south Louisiana was where they were doing the fighting," Payne said.

Laura Maloney of the Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said her organization was among groups assisting authorities. She said the dogs showed signs of fighting with both "old and fresh wounds."

"The dogs are scarred to quite an extent," she said in an interview.

Five dead dogs were to be exhumed for evaluation from burial locations on the Mississippi property, Maloney said.

Dr. Melinda Merck, who specializes in forensic medicine for animals, was documenting the medical condition of the animals and was to help the SPCA prepare evidence, a news release from the organization said.

In addition to the dogs, the sites had dogfighting paraphernalia including scales for weighing before a match, breed stands used to mate aggressive dogs, treadmills used to prepare dogs for matches, the dogfighting magazine Sporting Dog Journal and other dogfighting related books, and extensive records noting successes and losses in dogfighting contests.

"They were what are called `keeps,"' Maloney said of the raided sites. "It's a place for a training regiment to get the dogs ready for fights."

Case Updates

A veterinarian's assistant is one of three people now charged with dog fighting allegations. Those allegations stem from a raid last Tuesday at a property on Vidalia Road. The vet tech is Constance Jean Courtney. According to affidavits sent to WLOX News, the 23-year-old is accused of two counts of training pit bulls to fight other dogs.

John Wesley Black was also arrested on two counts of dog fighting.

The suspect facing the most prison time is the property owner Maxwell Landry. He's linked to 43 counts of illegal dog fighting in Harrison County.

Almost a week after the pit bulls were discovered in a dog fighting training complex, one of the animals quietly sat in a cage. But Tara High warned people not to let the pit bull's demeanor fool you.

"The reality is that they've been used for entertainment," the Humane Society of South Mississippi's executive director said.

In another cage, High said signs of illegal dog fighting were evident on a dog's face and body.

"It's quite tragic for those of us that are kind of left to deal with it and the reality that these animals aren't going to be able to be rehabilitated," she said.

Last Tuesday, investigators from around the region raided a property on Vidalia Road. They found 45 pit bulls either chained in a dog fighting training compound, locked in kennels, or living in a nearby trailer.

A follow up investigation by the humane society uncovered lineage evidence that High said linked these animals to a professional dog fighting operation. High compared the animals to "a loaded weapon. And not something we feel very comfortable letting out into the community." In other words, she said, "More than likely they'll all be euthanized."

For now, the 45 pit bulls seized last Tuesday are in a secret location. And they'll stay out of the public eye until the Humane Society gets a court order.

If they're found guilty, dog fighting suspects Maxwell Landry, John Wesley Black and Constance Jean Courtney could spend a minimum of one year in prison per illegal dog fighting charge. Landry is named in 43 counts. Black and Courtney are linked to two dog fighting allegations.

The Humane Society's executive director hopes this case sends a message, "that it's not okay. That there's a price to pay. And the price, the risk of participating in this activity outweighs the benefit."

Harrison County Prosecutor Herman Cox was told Landry owns the property where the dogs were discovered. Cox said the suspect confessed to investigators that he made about $5,000 a month fighting his dogs against other dogs.

Authorities found out about Landry's reported role in dog fighting while they were about to arrest him on drug charges. Landry is one of 14 people allegedly tied to drug trafficking between Mississippi, Louisiana and South Carolina.
Source: WLOX - April 30, 2007
Update posted on Apr 30, 2007 - 9:53PM 
Authorities think they've broken up a multi state drug trafficking ring. And in the process, they may have shut down a rather elaborate dog fighting operation. Tuesday morning, federal agents reportedly arrested Maxwell Landry. Landry lives at 14310 Vidalia Road in northwest Harrison County. He was one of 14 people named in a federal drug trafficking indictment.

According to reports, the Harrison County drug suspect may also be linked to a dog fighting ring.

Behind a shabbily built wooden fence on Vidalia Road is what authorities call a large dog fighting training compound, and nearly 45 scarred and abused pit bulls. Kathryn Destreza and other members of the Louisiana SPCA came to Harrison County to help take care of the dogs.

"They're machines made for one thing, and that's dog fighting," she said.

Investigators initially had no idea the dogs, or the training compound were on Maxwell Landry's property. According to Harrison County Sheriff George Payne, authorities were at the property to arrest "a major drug trafficker."

Landry once lived in Chalmette, Louisiana. But after the hurricane, he moved to this spacious property on Vidalia Road. From his property about eight miles north of I-10, authorities said they had proof Landry illegally transported drug between the two states.

"We made a dent not only in the drug trafficking here, but in the cruelty to these animals and the illegal dog fighting that's taking place in Louisiana. And the horrible condition that these animals have to live in," the sheriff said.

It was only after the DEA did aerial surveillance on the drug trafficking suspect's property in northwest Harrison County that federal agents discovered the dogs and the training compound, and contacted the humane society.

Tara High heads up the Humane Society of South Mississippi.

"To me, it's such a tragedy, because these animals are very friendly to people," she said, while taking a break from looking over the dogs.

So many dogs were chained inside the compound, Harrison County called the Louisiana SPCA to help document, and haul away animals that were reportedly trained to maul each other. "It's sad really," said Destreza.

Authorities found drugs, and a cattle prod inside the training compound. They believe both were used while the dogs were taught how to fight. They say they'll use that evidence to prove Maxwell staged illegal dog fights on his Harrison County property.

"It's organized animal cruelty if you ask me," the sheriff said. "They're fixing to go to jail."
Source: WLOX TV - Apr 24, 2007
Update posted on Apr 24, 2007 - 8:33PM 


  • WLOX - Apr 24, 2007 

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