TAMPA — A Tampa man is behind bars, accused of fighting, and training to fight, dogs at his home.
Maurice Bayless, 46, of 6312 S Selbourne Ave., was arrested Tuesday after an officer conducting a court-ordered search found 18 dogs, dog-training equipment and other paraphernalia said to be consistent with a dogfighting operation.
Of the 18 pit bullterrier mixes, three had what appeared to be fighting wounds, according to an arrest report. Eight of the dogs were puppies.
Marti Ryan, a spokeswoman for Hillsborough County Animal Services, said both her agency and Tampa police have received numerous complaints about Bayless' address dating to 1999: "About his area, his residence, his dogs," she said. "Hearing crying and other disturbing sounds from the property."
On Tuesday, officers found weighted collars and vests, Ryan said, as well as records, publications, scales, injectable medications and other training equipment.
Bayless is charged with one count of owning animal fighting equipment, three counts of animal fighting, five counts of possessing animal fighting publications and three counts of training or breeding dogs for fighting. Officers also say they found marijuana at his residence and charged Bayless with possession of marijuana.
Ryan said the dogs are being medically evaluated, but she described them as thin, flea-infested and scarred. While they are friendly to humans, they are very aggressive toward one another, she said. "But I don't know what their future is."
Bayless' arresting officer noted in the arrest report that Bayless has tattoos that say, "Going Hard Dogs Fighting" and "Scratch to win with Bulldog."
State records indicate Bayless has been charged before with improper confinement of animals and child abuse.
He is being held at the Orient Road Jail with bail set at $24,500.