A joint effort from Volusia County’s Animal Services Division, Halifax Humane Society, the City of Daytona Beach’s Animal Control Unit, the city’s Code Enforcement Division and the Daytona Beach Police Department (DBPD) puts three Daytona Beach residents behind bars for running a dogfighting ring.
53-year-old Noble Geathers, 50-year-old Earl Holmes and 33-year-old Benjamin Ponder each face a long list of felony charges, including animal cruelty, animal fighting and practicing veterinary medicine without a license.
All these charges came after DBPD obtained search warrants from a Volusia County judge to enter the properties on 225 & 227 Reva Street as well as an adjacent vacant lot during the early-morning hours of February 22, 2021. A fence which had been put up illegally inside the vacant lot was torn down, allowing officers access to the dogs.
Investigators found 42 pit bulls – 24 adults and 18 puppies – living in those properties, most of them being kept outside in small kennels made of wood and wire, car carriers or chained to car axles with little or no access to clean water or food. Many of the females were breeding new puppies for fighting.
Some of those dogs had no access to shelter and a lot of the ones that did were living in areas that were caked with urine and feces. Many of the dogs wore collars which had to be cut off because of how tight they fit.
A good number of the dogs were found with healing cuts or wounds on their bodies which are consistent with dog fighting.
Officers also found medical records for the dogs which were maintained by the defendants along with various kinds of dog supplements and medications, including a type of medicine which is commonly used in organized dog fighting to boost red cell production as well as stamina and endurance.
All the puppies (seven females, 11 males) and adult pit bulls (20 females, four males) were removed from the care of the defendants and taken to Halifax Humane Society (HHS) for safe keeping. A court forfeiture hearing later this week could determine if those dogs will be returned to the defendants or if they will be awarded to the police department. If that happens, DBPD would sign them over to HHS in the hopes some could be adopted out in the future.
Geathers – who detectives believe was the ringleader – is facing 35 charges, including 24 counts of animal fighting, 10 counts of felony cruelty to animals and one count of practicing veterinary medicine without a license. He was booked at Volusia County Jail on March 9, 2021 and has since posted bond.
Ponder faces the same charges as Geathers plus one count each of possession of cannabis with intent to sell, possession of cocaine with intent to sell and driving with a suspended/canceled/revoked license. He was booked at Volusia County Jail on March 6, 2021 and has since posted bond.
Holmes is charged with 10 counts of practicing veterinary medicine without a license and 10 counts of felony cruelty to animals. He was booked at Volusia County Jail on March 3, 2021 and has remained there ever since.