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Dog fighting arrest sheds light on Harrisburg problem - abc27 WHTM

Dog fighting arrest sheds light on Harrisburg problem

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Anthony Bellamy Anthony Bellamy
HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) -

Shivering in the cold, the docile Clementine never once yelped, whimpered, or barked in the 30 minutes spent getting to know the pup.

Kaitlin Becker, assistant director of the Central Pennsylvania Animal Alliance, is taking care of Clementine until she finds a home.

Her owner, 42-year-old Anthony Bellamy, was forced to surrender his pet this week after he was held over for trial on dog fighting charges. He was also charged with corruption of minors.

On January 26, Harrisburg police arrested Bellamy after a neighbor reported hearing commotion from his backyard on S. 13th Street.

Authorities said officers heard growling and yelping and discovered a makeshift dog fighting ring made of plywood, and observed a teen capturing the canine cruelty on a cell phone.

A bull mastiff named Money and a pit bull were forced to fight, and both dogs were bloody in their faces, chests and necks, according to investigators.

Both of the dogs were taken to the Humane Society of Harrisburg to care and adoption.

Clementine, however, was never a fighting dog. Officials said Bellamy used her to breed dogs for fights.

"She's such an easy dog," Becker said.

Wearing a sweatshirt that read "I <3 DOGS," Becker said the city's dog fighting problem is becoming dire.

"It goes on in people's backyards and people don't realize it," she said.

What's worse, she pointed out, is when neighbors call in tips but the rings are cleaned up before police have time to respond.

According to a December report by The Burg, the city's dog population is about 10,600. Dogs over three months old are required to have a license, but officials said there are fewer than 1,000 licensed dogs in Harrisburg.

Starting March 1, fees for a dog license will increase.

That information can be found here: http://harrisburgpa.gov/file/2013/04/dogappl1.pdf

"There is a lack of enforcement," Becker said. "I think it's also people don't realize they have to do it."

Given the $20 yearly fee, 10,600 dogs would generate $212,000 in revenue. Instead, the city has received about $8,000 in license revenue during each of the last three years, according to the Controller's Office. Compare those figures with the fact that the city has spent almost $100,000 in taking care of abandoned dogs.

Dropping a dog off at the Humane Society costs the city $265 per dog. The practice cost Harrisburg $56,705 in 2012 and $43,087 in 2013.

Becker hopes if anything else, those figures would encourage more people to notify police about dog fighting and animal abuse. She hopes people will dial the CPAA's Dog Fighting hotline at 717-836-7961.

"There's a lot of dogs that have come out of the City of Harrisburg unfortunately with scars on them that show signs of dog fighting in their past," Becker said. "Usually, nine times out of ten, they're the sweetest dogs."

Anyone interested in adopting Clementine may contact CPAA at info@cpaa.info.

 

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