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More than 100 dogs rescued, man arrested in Paulding County dog-fighting ring bust

Lemark Burrell (Paulding County Sheriff’s Office)

More than 100 dogs were rescued and a Paulding County man was arrested after busting a massive dog fighting operation this week.

Lemark Burrell, 55, was charged with cruelty to animals and dog fighting.

Tuesday, using multiple search warrants, multiple agencies raided a home located at 1040 Old Cartersville Road. Investigators say they found 106 dogs, mostly pit bulls. The Paulding County Sheriff’s Office describes the scene and the varying state of the dogs in a release on Friday.

“Some of the dogs were emaciated, while others were strong and extremely aggressive toward other dogs,” the sheriff’s office wrote. “The sad part is that the vast majority of these animals just craved the love and attention of the deputies and detectives that were on the scene.”

The sheriff’s office went on to describe that most of the dogs outside were found tied to trees and metal stobs, and showed signs they were not being provided proper food and water.

“These animals were tied to various things using large and extremely heavy logging chains and thick collars,” the sheriff’s office wrote. “Many of these dogs were basically left in the elements with little to no shelter for days on end.

Investigators say the dogs were also not being seen by veterinarians and have not received their proper vaccinations.

Inside, conditions were not much better.

“Some of the dogs were housed in the basement of the home where the presence (along with the odor) of urine and feces was so strong, authorities had to wear protective equipment just to be able to safely enter the home,” the sheriff’s office wrote . “Conditions where dogs were being housed, both inside and on the exterior of this property, were not fit for humans, much less dogs.”

The Paulding County Sheriff's Office released this photo showing the dog collars taken off of rescued dogs during a dog-fighting bust on Nov. 8, 2022.

The Paulding County Sheriff’s Office released this photo showing the dog collars taken off of rescued dogs during a dog-fighting bust on Nov. 8, 2022. (Paulding County Sheriff’s Office)

The dogs were taken in by various rescue facilities where they can be rehabilitated. Friends of the Forlorn Pitbull Rescue, Inc., East Paulding Animal Hospital, New Hope Animal Hospital, Mostly Mutts Animal Rescue, Hiram Animal Hospital, Cedarcrest Animal Hospital, Frank Ortiz of the Cedarcrest Animal Hospital, Jessica Rock of the Prosecuting Attorney’s Council of Georgia , and Steve Hammond, Director of Cobb County Animal Control all helped step up to assist with the dog’s rescue.

Paulding County Sheriff Gary Gulledge released a statement about the bust that reads:

“In cases like these, we have to conduct a lengthy and thorough investigation. This is not something that we can just put together in a few days, cases like these are compressive and require us to work with many local, state, and federal entities “I am proud of the teamwork that has been exhibited in this case and I am thankful that these dogs are safe now. The dark and sinister world of dog fighting is a despicable culture that has no place in our world.”

Burrell was arrested at the home without incident. He was booked into the Paulding County Jail where he was being held as of Friday without bond.

Investigators say he faces more than 100 additional counts, but those have yet to be filed.

The Paulding County Animal Control, the Paulding County Marshal’s Bureau, and the Paulding County District Attorney’s Office assisted the Paulding County Sheriff’s Office with the bust.

Investigators encourage anyone with information in this case or any other potential dog-fighting ring, to call the Paulding County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigations Tip Line at 770-443-3047.

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