A man in Ohio claims he was helping hunters train their dogs for bear hunting, but a law enforcement agency alleges he conducted an event in the blood sport known as bear-baiting, involving a bear he owns and hunting dogs.
Bear-baiting has been described as a cruel spectator event in which a captive bear is pitted against teams of dogs, which harass the bear, often jumping on it and biting it.
Clinton Bailey vehemently denies the allegation, said to have occurred on his farm in Meigs County, according to WSAZ. Baily has a dangerous wild animal permit and has owned Cinny the bear for about 10 years until officials took it away on Saturday.
The Meigs County Sheriff's Department accused Bailey of charging $20 per dog to participate in attacking his bear, and claims it has collected significant video footage of the illegal activity obtained via the drone team from the Franklin County Sheriff's Office.
Investigators say seven men, two women and eight children—most of them from West Virginia—attended the event along with the bear’s owner and his juvenile son. Deputies also say at least one child was witnessed inside an unapproved enclosure while dogs were attacking the bear.
A grand jury will decide if felony charges will be filed. Officials say the witnesses could be subjected to criminal charges as well.
Baily explained to WSAZ that he would charge hunters from all over the country to allow their dogs to be inside an enclosure with his bear to help the dogs get experience being around a bear before going bear hunting.
He told WSAZ that the dogs are not allowed to touch the bear and if they do, the dogs are required to immediately be put on leashes.
“Everyone who’s been here has been great people,” Bailey told WSAZ. “We have rules we operate under. No contact. Damn sure no fighting. My dad would shoot me if I fought a dog against a bear.
“Occasionally there will be contact. The dog owner knows he has to immediately leash his animal. I’ve got hundreds of witnesses.
"There has never been the first dog fight with a bear [here]. If Jesus Christ was here, I'd say it in front of him."
Bailey described the bear as part of the family, telling WSAZ "you can get on the ground with this animal and pet it and scratch its belly and rub its ears and feed it candy out of your mouth."
Bailey claims he has done nothing wrong or inhumane, and said he’d fight to get his bear back. He obtained the bear from a private zoo in Pennsylvania.
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