Pit bull owners charged with animal cruelty

MAYFIELD — Police in two Western Kentucky counties have discovered dozens of dead or injured pit bulls that they say were involved in illegal dog fights.

About a dozen dead dogs that had been shot in the head were pulled from a creek in McCracken County on Thursday morning, Sheriff Jon Hayden said.

Authorities in neighboring Graves County have arrested a married couple and charged them with animal cruelty after finding about 80 pit bulls in two locations, including the couple's home.

Joanal L. DeBerry, 29, and Amy E. DeBerry, 25, of Hickory, face 30 counts of first-degree animal cruelty, a felony.

"We believe that some of these dogs have been involved in dogfighting," said DeWayne Redmon, chief deputy sheriff in Graves County. Redmon said the investigation could lead to more arrests.

Six of the dogs were taken by rescue authorities for treatment. One was euthanized Thursday after attacking a worker at a veterinarian clinic where the dog was being cared for, said Joseph Lacewell, who manages the Graves County Animal Shelter.

Lacewell said he was working with pit bull rescue groups around the country and in Canada to find homes for the remaining dogs.

"We're hoping to get every single one of them," Lacewell said.

Redmon said Graves County authorities received a complaint Wednesday night from a neighbor who said several dogs had been moved to a rural area in the northern part of the county. Police found about 20 pit bulls at the wooded location and learned they were brought there by the DeBerrys on Saturday, Redmon said. Police found about 60 more pit bulls at the home.

Redmon said several of the dogs at both locations had injuries they suspect are related to dogfighting. Redmon said the 30 counts of animal cruelty are related to dogs that were found either with injuries or with signs of malnourishment.

About 30 of the dogs were puppies, Lacewell said.

Police are trying to determine if the dead pit bulls found in neighboring McCracken County are linked to the DeBerrys. Hayden said the dogs had been tossed off a bridge into a creek near the Graves County line.

"Some of these looked like they had been shot and dumped last night," Hayden said.

Amy DeBerry was released from jail on bond Thursday but Joanal DeBerry remained in jail because of an additional drug possession charge, Graves County Jailer Randy Haley said.