Update on Dogs Tortured, Man Charged with 28 Counts
On Monday two of the dogs in the worst shape were removed from the home of Nahume Belvilus, 29, in the 200 block of South 24th Street, Ft. Pierce, and taken to Humane Society of St. Lucie County, while the remaining 28 dogs were being “home quarantined” at Belvilus’ home, because there was no room at the Humane Society to house them. Yesterday after a warrant was attained officers moved in to rescue the remaining dogs.
Saturday, acting on a tip, an officer went to the Belvilus house and saw 25 dogs chained up, some in immediate need of medical care, some severely emaciated. As Officer watch through a broken fence slat Belvilus proceeded to beat and torture three pit bulls with a 3-foot broken fishing pole.
Belvilus was arrested on almost 30 counts of mistreatment of animals and could face more charges, officials said. He is being held at the St. Lucie County jail on $175,000 bond
A police officer on Monday said that Belvilus showed no remorse for his cruel treatment of the dogs. “His whole attitude was they’re my dogs, and I can do what I want. They’re my dogs,” Fort Pierce Police Officer Daniel Gilroy said.
Police don’t believe the dogs were used in dog fighting, but aren’t ruling out the possibility they might have been sold to people who do fight them. According to the Humane Society of the United States, pit bulls are a popular and preferred breed used in dog fighting and the activity has recently gained national attention in the wake of the case against Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick.
Nelson said it’s one of the worst cases of animal cruelty he’s witnessed in his 12 years on the job.
“A lot of the chains on the dogs were so big they could hold an elephant,” he said.
Nelson doesn’t believe the dogs were involved in fighting because they had no scarring and no dog-fighting equipment was found in the house. Only one dog, so emaciated his ribs showed through his skin, had markings, Nelson said.
Humane Society Director Frank Andrews said the dogs are in such bad shape he doubts they will be able to adopt them out. He said one in their care has already been tested positive for heartworms, and he suspects the rest will, too.
“It would take extensive medication and a long healing period,” he said. “It’s tragic because one of the dogs looks like it’s been bred more than once, and the other one is as friendly as friendly could be, but even wagging its tail seems like it’s almost too much for the condition that it’s in. Sometimes people are just no darn good, I think.”
Belvilus told Gilroy he raised pit bulls for sale and was running a business out of his home. Officials involved in the case said Belvilus was unable to show proof of health certificates for each dog and none of them were spayed and neutered. (TC Palm)
Neighbors claimed to have no knowledge of the situation behind the high wooden fence. No one knew just how long the dogs had been so cruelly chained, starved and abused.
One of the neighbors, a self proclaimed animal lover and owner of a ‘pampered’ pit bull broke down and cried as officers removed the dogs. “I never heard those dogs except once in the morning and once in the evening,” she said. “I thought everything was cool there. I thought maybe he had 10. I wonder what he would do with children if he would hurt animals like this?”
To the surprise of many, the dogs overall were friendly and wagged their tails as animal control officers loaded them into several crates in the backs of trucks. Some had to be carried because they were too scared to walk on their own.
Frank Andrews, director of the Humane Society of St. Lucie County, said the shelter would make room for all the dogs, doubling up some of them in kennels.
He said the Humane Society will set up a special fund for the animals, which are going to require extensive medical treatment. At this point, it’s unclear whether any of the animals will be adopted, Andrews said.
Andrews said these dogs “did not get into this bad of shape in a vacuum. Surely someone would have seen something.”
It took a 911 call from a concerned neighbor who heard a dog whimpering Saturday afternoon to bring a police officer out to the scene. The officers witnessed Belvilus beating several of his dogs to send a group of guardian angels to these animals’ rescue.
After seizing the dogs, Fort Pierce Police Capt. Brian Humm said police are investigating if Belvilus raised the animals as “bait” dogs for dog fighting. When questioned, Belvilus told officers he bred the dogs to sell them and that it was a business. Bait dogs are trained to be submissive and used to train an “attack” dog, Humm said.
He described the dogs’ living conditions as horrendous and complete squalor.
“In my years, I’ve never seen this many animals bred like this, nor have I seen the behavior toward these animals this bad,” Humm said.
Belvilus, who’s in the St. Lucie County Jail on $175,000 bond, is charged with nine felonies and 13 misdemeanors based on the police officer’s observation of the beatings, Humm said.
“In order for us to prove felony animal abuse … the jury will have to prove torture was involved,” Humm said.
Each animal would be examined by the Humane Society of St. Lucie County’s veterinarian, Dana Juillerat, owner of Tri-County Animal Hospital, to determine the degree of cruelty each animal has been subjected to, Humm said.
“Some may have no signs or we may have no evidence,” he said. “Others we may have definitive evidence on. We have an officer’s eyewitness testimony that is going to offer some evidence at this point. That was the evidence that was uncovered that gave rise to this search warrant.”
Juillerat said the animals will be examined today at the Humane Society. He described what he saw Tuesday as “horrible” living conditions and said he’s never seen cruelty to this degree in Fort Pierce. (TC Palm)
I say again, a person like this needs to receive the punishement he doled out again and again to these poor innocent dogs! People who hurt animals need to be dealt with harshly as studies have proven over and over, those who hurt, abuse, torture and kill animals are much more apt to turn on a human being next time. Do you honestly think a man who is capable of the cruelties this Belvilus was inflicting on these dogs would hesitate to beat or hurt a person? The cycle of cruelty has to end!
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