The arrests of two Severna Park residents on dogfighting charges were unusual, but officials say they were not the first signs that the blood sport takes place in Anne Arundel County.
Animal control officers occasionally pick up strays suffering from injuries, scars and other marks typical of dogfights, but when ownership is not clear, police are not called to investigate, said Glenn Johnson, an Anne Arundel animal control officer and investigator.
More definite evidence is rare: The last dogfighting arrests in the county were in 2005, when two Annapolis men were charged. Several years ago, authorities said they found a secluded dogfighting operation in a wooded section off Forest Drive.
“It’s like the narcotics trade – it’s hidden, it’s underground,” said Lt. James Richey, commander of the county’s Animal Control Division. “To get information to make arrests can be difficult.”
This month, a tipster alerted police to possible dogfighting at a secluded property on Glenns Road in Severna Park. An officer conducted surveillance for two days before authorities raided a home Sept. 7, seizing five pit bulls and training equipment such as a treadmill and ropes used to strengthen jaw muscles – associated with training dogs for fights.
Authorities said Kevin Jay Green, 44, and Kathleen Marie Bell, 37, were being held at the Jennifer Road Detention Center on charges of maintaining a dogfighting operation, cruelty to animals and arranging or conducting dogfights. They also face numerous charges, police said, related to drugs that were seized from the home.
The highly publicized arrest of Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick has brought new attention to dogfighting from law enforcement officials and civilians. Vick pleaded guilty last month to bankrolling an interstate dogfighting operation, and he admitted participating in the killing of pit bulls.
“We have seen a surge in dogfighting arrests since then,” said John Goodwin, manager of animal-fighting issues for the Humane Society of the United States. He tracks the number of dogfighting cases nationwide and counted eight in August 2006. Last month, there were 40 cases.
An unofficial database maintained at www.petabuse.com shows just a handful of such arrests in recent years in Maryland, with incidents reported in Baltimore and Fort Washington.