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PCSO News Release

Media Contact:
Eleazer, Carrie

Public Information Officer 
News Date: 11/14/2014 

 Bartow Couple Arrested and Charged with Animal Cruelty, 77 Pit Bulls Rescued 


On Wednesday, October 22, 2014, PCSO deputies arrested Hewitt Grant Jr. and Nickie Sanders of Bartow, and charged both with multiple counts of animal cruelty related to their dog fighting operation. Of the 69 dogs originally seized, which grew to a total of 98 because of more puppies being born, 77 were able to be rescued.

 According to their affidavits, 47-year-old Hewitt Grant II and his girlfriend, 44-year-old Nickie Sanders, of Bartow, were operating a dog fighting operation at two locations in Polk County, Fort Meade and Bartow. PCSO deputies served search warrants at 122 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr St in Fort Meade, and 880 LB Brown Ave in Bartow.

At the Fort Meade address, deputies took possession of 20 dogs that had been trained to fight, and recovered evidence of dog fighting, including heavy logging chains (7 of the dogs were chained to them when deputies arrived) that are used to strengthen the dogs' necks for fighting; an area where a dog fighting ring was set up; and carpet pieces that were stained by blood.

At the Bartow address, deputies located another dog fighting ring with visible blood on the floor and walls, along with a treadmill used to condition the dogs for fighting and endurance. Four dogs were tied to logging chains. Deputies seized a total of 41 dogs and 8 puppies from this property. Inside the home, deputies located two revolvers and marijuana. Grant is a convicted felon, and not allowed to own firearms. Grant also had an injunction served against him in 2006, prohibiting him from owning dogs.

Grant was placed under arrest and charged with the following:

  • 61 counts Owning Animals Used for Fighting (F-3)
  • 12 counts Animal Cruelty (M-1)
  • 3 counts Owning Equipment Use for Animal Fighting (F-3)
  • 2 counts Possession of Weapon by Convicted Felon (F-2)
  • 2 counts Own/Lease Property Used for Animal Fighting (F-3)
  • 1 count Possession of Marijuana (M-1)
  • 1 count Possession of Paraphernalia (M-1)

Grant remains in the Polk County Jail. He has nine prior arrests in Polk County.

Sanders was placed under arrest and charged with the following:

  • 41 counts Owning Animals Used for Fighting (F-3)
  • 5 counts Animal Cruelty (M-1)
  • 2 counts Owning Equipment Use for Animal Fighting (F-3)
  • 1 count Possession of Marijuana (M-1)
  • 1 count Possession of Paraphernalia (M-1)

Sanders was released from the Polk County Jail after posting bond.

PCSO originally took possession of 69 animals from the two properties. Afterwards, 33 puppies were born at the Animal Control facility - four of those puppies died shortly after birth, resulting in 98 total animals housed at Animal Control.

After a thorough evaluation by behavioral specialists as to the temperament of all 98 dogs and puppies, 59 were rescued by local animal welfare organizations, including SPCA Florida, the Humane Society of Polk County, and the Humane Society of Pinellas County. On Friday, November 14, 2014, the ASPCA responded to Polk County and rescued 18 more dogs, for a total of 77 dogs rescued by animal welfare organizations.

All of the rescued dogs will be rehabilitated by the professionals at these organizations, and will be made available for adoption.  

"According to the ASPCA, being able to rescue 74% of dogs from a case such as this is phenomenal. These dogs are bred by humans such as Hewitt Grant to fight other dogs to the death, or to be used as bait in dog fighting organizations. Actions like these are inexcusable. We are tremendously grateful to the animal welfare organizations with whom we partnered in this case, and in other animal cruelty cases. It is the dedicated professionals at these organizations who make it possible for dogs that have been mistreated to be rehabilitated and adopted by loving families, which is always our goal." - Sheriff Grady Judd