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Amid seizures, pit bulls crowd local shelter


One of the pit bulls recently confiscated in an investigation into dog fighting in Columbus. Pit bulls now take up 40 of the Humane Society’s 54 cages.

One of the pit bulls recently confiscated in an investigation into dog fighting in Columbus. Pit bulls now take up 40 of the Humane Society’s 54 cages. Photo by: Kelly Tippett


Columbus-Lowndes Humane Society animal assistant Chris Todd feeds a pit bull held in one of their kennels.



Jordan Novet



Leaders of the Columbus-Lowndes Humane Society are disappointed to see pit bulls taking up so many of the shelter''s cages. 


Two seizures of pit bulls in Lowndes County last week added to the tally of pit bulls and pit bull mixes residing at the shelter, bringing the total to about 40, executive director Karen Johnwick said. Meanwhile, she said, the shelter contains 54 cages.  


"If we have 40 pit bulls here, that''s just ridiculous," she said. "There is just no reason we should 40 pit bulls here." 


She and her colleagues may not allow people to adopt pit bulls from the shelter, even if not all of them are fighting dogs. And so, at least for now, pit bulls and pit bull mixes outnumber adoptable dogs, she said. 


Aggressiveness and the potential to fight may not be a matter of nature, though. "Pit bulls are awesome dogs, but I also think they''re dangerous in the wrong hands," Johnwick said, suggesting people train the dogs to be vicious.  


"You would have thought that Michael Vick would have slowed down all this, but evidently it did not," said Juliaette W. Sharp, the organization''s president. 


Columbus-Lowndes animal control officers seized four pit bulls and two puppies from a residence on Pickensville Road July 14. Columbus police officers found equipment used to train the dogs to fight. The four adult dogs were scarred and bloody. The dogs'' owner, Joseph Ellis, 19, is scheduled to appear in court in the municipal complex at 1:30 p.m. July 29.  


Sharp and others against dog-fighting will rally at Ellis'' court hearing. 


"We''re calling in the forces," Sharp said, "because this has been going on and going on and going on, and these people that have been training pit bulls have been arrested time and time again, and all they get is a slap on the wrist, so to speak. They are not pursued and fined to the utmost." 


Four days after Ellis was arrested and his dogs were taken away, another seizure of pit bulls occurred in Lowndes County. 


An 11-year-old boy was walking down Oil Well Road in Caledonia Saturday when four pit bulls attacked him. 


At 2:20 p.m. Saturday, the Lowndes County Sheriff''s Office received a call from the boy''s father, Randy Hayward, to report the incident, said LCSO Chief Deputy Greg Wright. At the time of the call, Hayward and his son were on their way to the emergency room. 


The owner of the dogs, Kevin Blizard, 21, of 23 Oil Well Road, said one of them was aggressive, according to a report Deputy Randy Collins made after speaking with Blizard. But Hayward disputes Blizard''s claim, since all four of the dogs attacked the child.  


The child suffered a bite on his left arm, Wright said. 


Columbus-Lowndes County animal control officers took the dogs to the Columbus-Lowndes Humane Society. They were still housed there Wednesday. If a judge will decide at a hearing whether the dogs are dangerous, they could be euthanized, Wright said.  


A hearing on the incident will take place at 1:30 p.m. Aug. 18 at the Lowndes County Justice Court. 


Neither Blizard nor Hayward could be reached for comment.  


Police are withholding Hayward''s son''s name.




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Reader Comments

Article Comment Cathy S commented at 7/24/2009 2:39:00 PM:

I think they should throw the book at these people who raise these dogs and do not treat them as family pets. If they have intentions to do harm to other dogs or humans, they need to be held accountable. God didn't give us these animals to use to destroy, He blessed us with them as loyal companions that only want to please, love and be loved. The courts need to make an example out of these "people".


Article Comment lolinaz commented at 7/24/2009 3:09:00 PM:

Dido Cathy S!!! We want to start seeing a slow down in the over-population and dog fighting busts? Then we need to enact much, much harsher penalties and start making examples out of people by enforcing the maximum penalties available - ZERO TOLERANCE!


Article Comment Dog owner commented at 7/24/2009 3:36:00 PM:

It is how you RAISE them if they are aggerssive or not,We have a half Rottwier and half Doberman.We do not raise him that way. Most people raise and train these dogs to fight. The Pitbulls pay the price for their owners dumbness. Law inforcement don't know where a lot of these fights are if they did, they could do something about them.


Article Comment dog owner commented at 7/24/2009 4:46:00 PM:

I agree that it is how you raise your animals. I had a pit bull and she was one of the sweetest, most gentle, and loving dogs I have ever owned.


Article Comment anon commented at 7/24/2009 7:18:00 PM:

It is sad to see this pit bulls in the hands of owners who don't care about them. I believe though, that the humane society should allow the adoption of pit bulls and pit bull mixes. In larger cities, i.e. Memphis, they do a background check for all adoptions to make sure that the dog will not undergo any abuse. Instead of allowing the pit bulls to crowd the shelter, I believe that they should at least have some sort of criteria for the owners to be able to adopt these dogs. After all, every pet needs a home.


Article Comment Ann commented at 7/25/2009 9:53:00 AM:

As an executive director, Ms Johnwick should seek a solution to her problem, not shake her head in dismay, throw up her hands, and say, no more pit bull adoptions.

All around the country, there are shelters implementing training and education to make pit bulls more adoptable and owners more educated.

As someone who is part of the "humane" community, her outlook should contain more compassion, integrity and humanity.Perhaps Ms Johnwick should consider another line of work if she is this easily frustrated and finding solutions pose difficulty to her line of thinking.

Look into the works of Nathan Winograd, it can be done.


Article Comment Luke Thomas commented at 7/25/2009 4:13:00 PM:

Breed specific legislation all the way! Too much dog fighting-that's because one can legally breed all the pit bulls they want, which is the stock and trade of the dog fighters. Animal activists are the dog fighters' best friends because animal activists fight HARD to suppress breed specific legislation so the dog fighters can have and breed as many pit bulls as they please! I'm speaking 100% TRUTH!


Article Comment KJ commented at 7/25/2009 8:51:00 PM:

I think everyone with kids should have a pit bull.


Article Comment Justin commented at 7/26/2009 4:13:00 PM:

Luke, while I agree that many people do breed dogs for the wrong reason, breed specific legislation is not what we need. We do not need extra government interference in our lives.

Instead, we need laws that are enforced that will deter animal fighting. While animal fighting is cruel and barbaric on its own, there are many other criminal activities associated with it. It is a scourge that should be removed, and if those with the power to prosecute these criminals fail to do so, we should not fail to remove them from their positions.

I feel for the people working at the Humane Society. They have to deal with horrific situations on a daily basis. While some may not agree, and rightfully so in some situations, with the actions of the board of directors of the Lowndes County Humane Society, everyone can help the plight of those who work there. Spay and Neuter your animals. Encourage others to do the same. This would go a long way towards reducing the number of animals in the shelter.


Article Comment dogcentric commented at 7/27/2009 7:29:00 AM:

Nobody doubts that a labrador bred to love to retrieve and swim will likely love to retrieve and swim. When it comes to a pit bull (bred to attack and keep on attacking) ignorant people say "it's all in how you raise them." No. It isn't.

It is true that many people attracted to pit bull ownership do raise their dogs to be dangerous. It is also true that most pit bulls have the GENETIC predisposition to be dangerous, at least to other dogs because they were bred to race across a pit, attack another dog without provocation and keep on attacking until the other dog is dead.


Article Comment dogcentric commented at 7/27/2009 8:32:00 AM:

Pit bulls are not great dogs for most people to own. They tend to be quite dog aggressive and they are high drive and high energy. Yet irresponsible pit bull breeders keep pumping them out and selling them to irresponsible people for profit.

We have tried asking pit bull breeders nicely to stop being irresponsible. It doesn't work. They care more about profits than about the dogs. It is time for breed specific legislation to stop the carnage. Mandatory microchipping of all pit bulls and pit bull mixes and mandatory spay/neuter of all pit bulls and pit bull mixes except AKC and UKC-PR registered show dogs would make pit bulls the rare breed they should be and would not even inconvenience a single responsible pit bull owner.

It is a win for everybody--especially pit bulls who need to be protected from pit bull breeders and their irresponsibility.


Article Comment doglover commented at 7/27/2009 2:17:00 PM:

I am a former pit bull owner and would like to say that it is not how you raise these dogs they have a tendancy to just snap for no reason. They are aggressive and very territorial in nature. I have neighbors who raise these dogs every few months at least 9 or more puppies up for sell. Stop puppy mills and put pit bulls on the list of animals that in many states are required to be behind a 6 foot fence and let your home insurance go up if you own one because sooner or later they will do something wrong.


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