YORK COUNTY, S.C. - A York County man has been charged with 58 counts of animal cruelty and dog fighting after deputies said a 70-year-old woman was attacked by a pit bull on his property Saturday.
“I could see that the bleeding was not controlled so I assisted…with applying a tourniquet,” a deputy wrote in a newly released report.
Ronald Faulkenberry, 38, was in jail on a family bench warrant when the victim, described as a family member, came to the home to “tend to the dogs” for him. She suffered a “major laceration” and had to be air-lifted to a Charlotte hospital after a pit bull bit her on the left leg, deputies said.
Fourteen pit bulls seized from the property were described as being aggressive and lacking proper food, shelter, and water. Eleven dogs were found chained to a pole in the ground. A vet later found eight of the animals were in condition that would “constitute ill-treatment.”
Investigators say the mobile home on Sawmill Road was the site of a dog fighting ring. Deputies found a “dog fighting pit,” training sleds, and two sticks that are “used to separate dogs during the fight.” A report taken at the scene noted “numerous dogs” appeared to have scars “consistent with dog fighting.”
“The 14 dogs are part of an ongoing YCSO investigation,” said county spokesperson Trish Startup when asked about the current condition of the dogs. “Therefore, York County cannot provide any information about the dogs.”
On Sunday, York County Sheriff Kevin Tolson said in a statement that the scene spoke to the “viciousness and violent nature of raising animals for the purpose of fighting.” At the time no charges had been filed and a news release did not say why authorities believed there was a connection to dog fighting. That prompted criticism from Councilman Bump Roddey, who said he wanted to see the evidence.
“It’s a very sensitive subject,” said Roddey.
On Tuesday he said he was glad to see that evidence and glad an arrest had been made.
“I fully support the sheriff because dog fighting in York County has to come to an end,” Roddey said by phone. “And our sheriff, Animal Control, as well as the Council, will not tolerate it in York County.”
FOX 46 has reported on previous dog fighting ring busts in the area. Last year, the county official banned chaining and tethering dogs.
On Monday the home was empty. FOX 46 saw a heavy chain attached to a tether, used to restrain the animals, along with empty beer cans and chickens roaming the property. Animal advocates say chickens can be used as bait. A sign red and white wood sign read: “OLE BOI KENNEL APBT.” APBT stands for American Pit Bull Terrier.
FOX 46 showed video of the property to the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals.
“Certainly, it’s heartbreaking,” said PETA emergency response division manager Kristin Rickman. “Dog fighting operations are still alive and well.”
Rickman said chaining dogs can lead to aggressive behavior because it often prevents them from reaching food, water or shelter.
“Pit bulls, particularly, have short coats and would be especially prone to being cold when the temperatures drop,” said Rickman. “So, it’s a very sad situation. I certainly hope there’s a good outcome for thee dogs.”
“For man’s best friend,” she added, “this type of solitary confinement is the very worst punishment.”
Rickman says the “OLE BOI KENNEL” sign likely references a breeding operation. Authorities also charged Faulkenberry with violating the county’s restraint, shelter, rabies and spay ordinances.
At least six female dogs were not spayed.
“Generally speaking, often dog breeding operations will give a name to their breeding operations,” said Rickman. “And sometimes it’s called ‘XYZ Kennel.’…It wouldn’t be unlikely that there were puppies being produced.”
Faulkenberry is being held at the York County Detention Center on $350 bond.
How do you spot dog fighting?
The Humane Society of America (https://www.humanesociety.org/sites/default/files/docs/dogfighting-how-to-identify-report.pdf) and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (https://www.aspca.org/animal-cruelty/dogfighting) gives advice on how to spot dog fighting.
Rickman with PETA recommends watching out for:
- Cars collecting at odd hours
- New dogs being brought in
- Dogs that are injured or have scars on their front legs, muzzles and neck
- Heavy chains
- Dogs on treadmills