South Fulton man charged in Miss. with dog fighting

Police found 9 injured pit bulls, including one with ‘recent wounds’ in SUV

A Fairburn man is behind bars in Mississippi on charges of fighting pit bulls, police said Monday.

Joseph Bates, Jr., 41, was stopped in the resort area of Gautier on Thursday.

He had nine pit bulls in the back of his SUV, all with varying degrees of injuries and one with serious injuries, police said.

“At least one of them had fairly recent wounds,” Keith Haver, commander of the South Mississippi Metro Enforcement Team, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Monday.

The animals’ injuries – bite marks to the face, neck, front and back legs – are consistent with dog fighting, police said.

Bates was charged with seven counts of felony dog fighting, nine counts of animal cruelty and nine counts of failing to produce shot records, a requirement for travelers with dogs.

The dogs were taken to the Jackson County, Miss. animal shelter.

Bates is being held at the Jackson County Adult Detention Center on $362,000 bond.

Bates’s SUV was pulled over in Gautier, on eastbound I-10 during a routine traffic stop, police said.

Police officers found the nine pit bulls, each in kennels, as well as dog-fighting paraphernalia like chest weights used to train the dogs, Haver said.

Gautier sits along the Gulf of Mexico, west of Pascagoula. The city had a population of 18,572 at the 2010 Census.