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Tulsa World

Pit-bull lovers heat up phone line
2002-12-03

SAPULPA -- Creek County sheriff's detective Terry Burton had 25 calls Monday from people wanting to adopt some of the 53 pit bulls that were found at a dogfight arena last week.

But Burton had to tell callers that the dogs were not available and were still being cared for by their owners.

"State law doesn't allow us to confiscate the dogs," Burton said, "unless it's after a conviction."

The dogs were found Nov. 27 north of Kellyville after deputies and state troopers served a search warrant.

Four people were arrested, including a city of Tulsa employee who faces a pretermination hearing Friday for violating city work rules.

The owners of the facility, James and Jeanne Fiarris, were arrested on 53 complaints of possessing a dog for dogfights, two counts of animal cruelty, keeping a place or equipment for dogfights, possession of a firearm during commission of a felony, and possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

The Fiarrises were released on $59,000 bail each.

Also arrested was Steven King, 37, of Broken Arrow on a complaint of encouraging a dogfight. He was released on $5,000 bail.

Roger Scott, 50, of Tulsa was released on $1,000 bail after his arrest on a complaint of possessing a dog for dogfighting.

Scott, a 30-year city of Tulsa employee, was placed on administrative leave with pay Monday pending his pretermination hearing Friday, said Kim MacLeod, a city Public Works Department spokeswoman.

He could face termination, demotion or suspension.

Scott, who works at the southside wastewater treatment plant, was arrested at the Fiarris home after arriving in a city truck.

Creek County District Attorney Max Cook's office was reviewing the evidence Monday to determine what charges to file. The state's felony law banning dogfights carries a prison term from one to 10 years in prison and a fine from $2,000 to $25,000 for each conviction.

State law directs the court to order all dogs and equipment related to a conviction destroyed or forfeited to the state.

Lou Cook of the Humane Society of Greater Creek County said the adult dogs could not be put in the same pen together because they would fight.

It's possible that some dogs could be adopted at some point, Cook said. However, it would be unwise to put one in a home with other dogs.

Cook worked with a friend, Dee Martin of Siberian Husky Rescue, to find Tulsa veterinarian Max Rust, who agreed to treat the injured dogs.

A Nov. 27 search found documents showing a tournament bracket to track outcomes of dogfights, pedigree registration papers, ledgers, pictures and other records to keep track of dogfighting, a court affidavit stated.

Near the residence, a search of a barn resulted in the discovery of two treadmills, harnesses, ropes and other equipment used in dogfighting.

A small arena had blood splatters on the walls, and carpeting in the arena had blood stains, the affidavit said.

The Fiarrises stated that they had been fighting dogs for two to three years, the affidavit said.