Man takes plea to dogfighting

ELIZABETH CITY (AP) — A Halifax County man has joined his parents in pleading guilty to federal dogfighting charges.

The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk, Virginia, reported that 22-year-old Zhaqwaun Javontae Gary pleaded guilty earlier this week in Elizabeth City. A news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office says Gary was arrested in 2013, along with his father, 47-year-old Elton Gary, and his mother, 44-year-old Erica Powell Gary.

The parents pleaded guilty earlier this year.

Authorities say the 17 pit bulls found at the Garys’ home all had wounds consistent with dogfighting. They say deputies found a steel bucket with bloody water, a dogfighting ring and a blood-spattered carpet.

Elton and Erica Gary could face more than 10 years in prison. Zhaqwaun Gary could get up to five years. No sentencing date has been set.

Dogfighting has slowed in Eastern North Carolina since authorities broke up a few major rings in 2013, said Chris Schindler, director of animal crimes for the Humane Society of the United States. Eighty dogs used for fighting were found that year in Elizabeth City and in Pasquotank, Perquimans, Gates and Camden counties.

Dogfighting operations remain in other parts of North Carolina and nationally, particularly in the Southeast, Schindler said.

“We know of other yards with a significant number of dogs,” he said.

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