By Florence Rankin

TIFTON - A Tifton man was charged Sunday with two counts of animal cruelty after animal control officers said he allowed pit bulldogs to repeatedly attack a hog.

Bradley D. Owens, 28, 4435 Highway 319 South, was arrested at his residence after animal control responded to an anonymous call.

"I grew up on a farm, but I've never heard of hunting hogs this way," said Animal Control Director Reginia Wells.

"The hog was running around, and the dogs were held by a leash, or really a big rope. Say if you and I were doing it, I'd let mine lunge at the hog and then pull it back and you'd let yours lunge. One of the dogs had blood all over its mouth."

Wells said one of the hogs had to be euthanized because of serious injuries. She and her staff expected to seize three pit bulldogs belonging to Owens on Monday afternoon and were to pick up a 300-pound hog today.

"We think they were priming them up for fighting dogs," Wells said. "There is a way to hunt hogs with dogs, like you hunt raccoons with dogs, but this was not like that. People who hunt hogs with dogs usually let the dogs loose and they run after the hogs and then the people shoot the hog to eat it.

"This poor hog would have died right there. Its backbone was exposed and the sides of its neck were eaten away."

Owens' wife, Bessie Jean Owens, 31, was charged with obstruction in connection with the incident.

Last July in Worth County, local animal control officers assisted with the seizure of 67 pit bulls believed to have been conditioned for fighting. Another 24 pit bulldogs were seized during an unrelated drug arrest in September in Tifton. Wells said she believes many more of the dogs are being used for fighting locally.

To contact city editor Florence Rankin, call 382-4321, ext. 209.

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