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Published: Thursday, 6/30/2011

Monroe Co. judge orders 4 'pit bulls' taken from kennel


MONROE -- Four "pit bulls" seized in a dog fighting operation in Raisinville Township were removed from a Wayne County kennel after Monroe County authorities learned the facility was unlicensed.

Monroe County Animal Control took the dogs -- Dusty, Razzel, Monroe, and Riley -- last Friday from Currey's Family Pet Care in Romulus after District Judge Jack Vitale ordered the animals to be returned to the animal control shelter on South Raisinville Road.

A visiting judge from Washtenaw County substituting for Judge Vitale put the dogs in the custody of rescue groups Buster Foundation and Monroe Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals on May 9.

The dogs have been the center of a civil complaint filed by the sheriff's office, which is asking for permission from the judge to have the dogs killed.

State and local authorities took the dogs as evidence during the March 6 raid on the Ida Maybee Road home of Pamela Cole, where officers broke up the championship match between two prizefighting dogs.

The county prosecutor asked Judge Vitale to order Currey's Family Pet Care to surrender the dogs because of allegations the kennel was neither licensed by the Michigan Department of Agriculture nor Wayne County.

The owner, Patrick Currey, was cited in Wayne County District Court.

He faces a hearing July 15 on three citations each of having unlicensed domestic animals and not having a kennel license.

Michael Brown, an assistant county prosecutor, has maintained that the dogs lack any useful purpose and are a threat to public safety.

"Our position has not changed," Mr. Brown said.

Attorneys representing Buster Foundation and the Monroe SPCA, have argued otherwise, insisting that the animals were not used for fighting and have suitable temperaments for adoption.

A hearing in the civil lawsuit is scheduled for Friday, when Judge Vitale could decide the fate of the dogs.

A veterinarian approved by the judge to evaluate the dogs.

Mr. Brown said Dr. Katherine Houpt, a veterinarian who specializes in animal behavior and is professor emeritus at Cornell University, examined the dogs at the animal control shelter on Monday and will testify Friday.

"We are waiting for a report from our expert to see what she has to say," Mr. Brown said.

Beth Wickwire, a lawyer representing the Buster Foundation and the Monroe SPCA, said her clients had the dogs evaluated by four people and they too will testify at the hearing. She declined to provide the conclusions or findings.

"We are looking forward to Friday. We are finally glad the dogs have been evaluated. We are hopeful for a good outcome for the dogs," she said.

Contact Mark Reiter at: markreiter@theblade.com or 419-724-6199.

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