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Panola County Deputies Discover Dog Fighting Ring; One Arrested

The Panola County Sheriff’s Office reportedly busted what appeared to be a dog-fighting ring in Como Saturday night. More than two dozen dogs were found in various stages of health.

According to the sheriff’s office, a deputy responded at 7:05 p.m. to 256 Rayburn Road, west of Como, just after 7 p.m., after someone called 911 from the residence and hung up.

The deputy on the scene reported that there was a large group of people at the home when they arrived; however, most fled in multiple vehicles. Many of the vehicles were from other counties and states.

The deputy determined a dogfight was in progress and requested backup.

During the course of the investigation, 29 dogs in various stages of health were seized by the sheriff’s department. Many of the dogs had scars from previous fights.

The sheriff’s department is working with other agencies to ensure the dogs receive the best care.

Deputies also seized 13 vehicles and arrested one man, Damien Jay Smoot, 37, of Como.

Smoot is the homeowner of the residence. He was charged with dogfighting, which is a felony in Mississippi.

The investigation is ongoing, and the sheriff’s department reported that more arrests are expected to follow.

“We applaud the Panola County Sheriff’s Office for cracking down on a dogfighting operation,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action. “Dogfighting is one of the most despicable crimes, and whenever it’s uncovered, people rightly ask how anyone could be so cruel and ruthless. Only with this kind of strenuous enforcement will we see the demise of dogfighting in our nation.”

Staff report

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