By Keegan Hamilton
King County Sheriffs say they found "chunks of dog flesh" last week in a vacant apartment in south Seattle used for dog fighting. The same space contained an air mattress that police believe was used for bedding down prostitutes. Sheriffs rescued four pit bulls that had recently done battle, and had to summon the SWAT team to arrest their suspected owner.
At around 3 a.m. on the morning of July 23, the cops were called to a complex of duplex apartments on the 10600 block of Aqua Way South, just off of Highway 509 between White Center and Burien.
When Sheriff's deputies arrived, they saw a man bolt from an apartment that was supposed to be empty. According to Sgt. John Urquhart, inside the vacant unit the deputies found "large quantities of both fresh and dried blood on the floor and walls." They also found two "bite sticks," small pieces of wood that dog handlers use to pry open the clenched jaws of their animals when they're locked in a stalemate. Urquhart says the deputies also discovered an air mattress and both used and unused condoms, evidence of "prostitution activity.
"Outside, two pit bulls were chained to a railing. One of the dogs was "injured and quite lethargic," according to Urquhart. Two more dogs were later discovered inside.
Another pit bull rescued by Sheriffs and currently being cared for by King County Animal Control.
In an occupied apartment adjacent to the dog-fighting lair, the sheriffs found Anthony Thompson holed up in a back bedroom. Thompson refused to give himself up, and fearing that he was armed, the Sheriff's deputies called for backup.
"He got religion when the SWAT team showed up," Urquhart says. "He came out relatively quickly."
Thompson was booked into the King County Jail on a felony arrest warrant for "escape from community custody," meaning he'd recently been released from prison but failed to make his required check-in with the Department of Corrections. According to a press release from the Sheriff's office, the 26-year-old suspect has a rap sheet that includes felony convictions for promoting prostitution, robbery, and unlawful possession of a handgun by a felon. He has not yet been charged in connection with the dog-fighting bust.
Chad Lewis, spokesman for the Washington Department of Corrections, says Thompson is classified as a "high risk for violence." He served a year-long stretch in Washington prison from October 2004 to October 2005 for the pimping charge, according to Lewis, and ended up back behind bars again from 2007 to 2010. After that, Lewis says, Thompson was "in and out of jail" in King and Yakima Counties for failing to report to his Community Corrections Officer. The warrant for Thompson's arrest was issued July 22, the day before the dog-fighting bust.
Urquhart says the Sheriff's office turned the four pit bulls over to King County Animal Control. Cameron Satterfield, spokesman for Animal Control, says one of the dogs has already been euthanized "because of its condition," but that damage was "probably not from dog-fighting injuries." Necropsy results are pending.
The third rescued pit bull."Since this is still an active investigation, right now we just can't say what's going to happen with these particular dogs," Satterfield says of the remaining three pit bulls. "We're holding the dogs and will continue to hold the dogs."
Historically, pit bulls trained to fight have been euthanized after being seized by law enforcement. While the animals are rarely aggressive toward humans, they are often ferocious around other dogs, the result of a lifetime of brutal conditioning by their trainers. But in 2009 authorities in Missouri rescued more than 500 dogs in the largest dog-fighting bust in U.S. history. While half of the animals had to be put to sleep, roughly 250 were adopted by surrogate owners.
For more info on the pit-bull rescue and adoptions, read "For the Love of Pit: Many former fighting dogs find new lives as family pets," published last year in conjunction with a Village Voice Media report on the controversial undercover investigation that led to the massive dog-fighting bust.