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Man faces dogfighting charges

Alexandra Mester • Mar 14, 2017 at 9:00 PM

TOLEDO — Three scarred “pit bulls” discovered in the basement of a North Toledo home earlier this month are doing well while the man authorities say is their owner faces multiple charges of dogfighting.

Jerry L. Buchanan, 47, of the 800 block of Clay Avenue, on Monday appeared in Toledo Municipal Court after his arrest Saturday. He is charged with three fourth-degree felony counts of dogfighting, first-degree felony counts of drug trafficking and possession of cocaine, and a third-degree felony count of having weapons under disability.

Toledo police served a search warrant March 2 at the home. Department spokesman Lt. Joe Heffernan said the warrant was related to drug activity. Officers found cocaine, cash, scales, baggies, and a rifle in addition to the three dogs and dogfighting equipment.

Neither Buchanan nor the property owner, Nichole Anderson, was home at the time of the search. Buchanan was arrested Saturday when an officer recognized him and initiated a traffic stop, Lieutenant Heffernan said.

Attorney Jerome Phillips is representing Buchanan in court. He told The Blade his client “has not made any statements to anyone.”

“We don’t really have information yet other than the charges,” Mr. Phillips said.

Ms. Anderson posted 10 percent of Buchanan’s $25,000 bond Sunday, so he remains free after the cash bond and supervised recognizance bonds were continued by the court Monday.

Complaints filed with the court show police found canine medications, penicillin, dog treadmills, books about dogfighting, dog weights, and dog food at the property. The three dogs, a female and two males, are being cared for at the Lucas County Canine Care & Control while the case continues.

Richard Stewart, director of the shelter, said the two males are underweight but all three dogs are doing well. Each of them bears marks consistent with having been fought.

“There are obvious scars that we think are related to dogfighting,” he said.

The three are being kept as isolated as possible from the shelter’s general population for general safety reasons and to reduce stress for the dogs. The animals are considered evidence in the ongoing case, and the shelter veterinarian is compiling information about their condition, Mr. Stewart said.

He noted he plans to discuss with Toledo police and the prosecution the option of petitioning the court to release ownership of the canines to the shelter as soon as possible once all evidence from them is collected. The dogs could then possibly be transferred to rescues for rehabilitation and eventual adoption instead of continuing to be kenneled virtually around the clock in the high-stress shelter environment while the case proceeds.

“They seem to be great with people,” Mr. Stewart said. “We haven’t seen any aggression toward people from them. We haven’t evaluated them with other dogs, of course.”

Buchanan was previously indicted on a dogfighting charge in 2004, in addition to charges of possession of and trafficking in cocaine. He pleaded guilty to attempt to commit possession of cocaine, and the trafficking and dogfighting charges were dismissed as part of a negotiated deal.

Stephen Heaven, president and CEO of the Toledo Area Humane Society, said weapons, gambling, and drug charges often stem from dogfighting operations.

“Dogfighting is used for betting, and there’s a lot of money changing hands,” he said. “With that kind of money, people are going to have weapons to protect it. Dog fights may also be a good place to sell [drugs].”

Buchanan’s charges are the Glass City’s second dogfighting case in two weeks. Last week, the humane society put up a $2,500 reward for information about a dog now called Otis. On Feb. 28, a resident witnessed Otis being thrown from a dark-colored pickup truck in an alley off Ottawa Drive, and he has multiple serious injuries believed to be from dogfighting.

Mr. Heaven said the two cases may be coincidental, but the organization is hoping Buchanan’s case is either connected directly to Otis or that the investigation of it produces a solid lead for Otis’ case.

“We’re keeping our fingers crossed,” he said. “The only way you’re really going to make that connection is if there are photographs of a fight or something like that. That’s the sort of break that would be great.”

Otis went into a foster home Sunday and is beginning to heal. The infection in his wounds is clearing, and the dog is getting livelier, Mr. Heaven said.

Buchanan’s next court appearance will be for a preliminary hearing April 27.


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