Trial begins for Orange County man charged with dog fighting and animal cruelty

Photos of injured dogs weighed down by chains were introduced as evidence Thursday in the trial of a man charged with dog fighting in March 2018.

Daniel Isiah Crew, 42, of Rougemont was arrested on 30 counts of dog fighting after Orange County authorities seized 30 dogs, parts of a dog-fighting pit and treadmills meant for the dogs to exercise. He also faces charges of animal cruelty.

Marcus Gamez, the animal control officer who took the photos and took some of the dogs to the Triangle Veterinary Referral Hospital, testified in Orange County court.

Gamez took 70 to 75 photos shown to the jury and answered questions about them from prosecutor Ana Orr and Crew’s defense attorney, Robert Myrick. The photos showed various injuries, including a dog’s bruised face and the heavy chains the dogs were made to carry.

When Myrick asked whether any injuries to the dogs were life-threatening, Gamez said open-wound injuries were. However, in the photos he took of the dogs, no open wounds were visible and there was only one minor operation done when Gamez took them to the vet.

Felony in 50 states

Dog fighting is a felony across all 50 states. Being a spectator and possessing dogs for the purpose of fighting are felonies in North Carolina.

Out of the 30 dogs that were seized, 22 were euthanized because they were considered too dangerous to enter society. The eight remaining dogs found new homes.

Dog fighting involves owners setting their dogs to fight in a pit that typically measures 14 to 20 square feet. Fights may last minutes, or even hours, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

Dog fight raids have resulted in seizures of more than $500,000. The dogs are often given drugs to enhance performance and their ears and tails are cropped. They are made to wear chains and run on treadmills to build up strength. Pitbulls are often used in dog fighting.

The fights lead to puncture wounds, blood loss and broken bones. Dogs are sometimes killed by their owners if they are considered an embarrassment, according to the ASPCA.

The trial will resume Friday and is expected to continue through next week.

Ashad Hajela reports on public safety for The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun. He studied journalism at New York University.