Hurricane Hugo has lived a life as destructive as his namesake storm.
Chained to a logging chain hooked to a car axle buried in the ground, the pit bull's only shelter from cold, heat and rain likely was a blue 50-gallon plastic barrel. At 46 pounds, he was described as severely underweight. If his days were spent as those of most fighting dogs, he spent hours each week on a treadmill to build his endurance. At other times, he would have been tethered within several feet of another dog to create aggression.
"Their day-to-day life is spent chained to the ground," Amber Burckhalter, a dog trainer in Atlanta who works with aggressive animals said of the typical fighting dog's life. "They unchain them for a dog fight and they go into the pit. And if they come out, they come out. And if they don't ..."
Burckhalter examined Hurricane Hugo after an undercover investigator bought him at a dog-fighting enclave in Duplin County in April 2010. The man who sold Hurricane Hugo, 78-year-old Harry Hargrove, is considered a legend in the dog-fighting world and was scheduled to be sentenced Thursday in federal court on dog-fighting charges. He has pleaded guilty and prosecutors are seeking a sentence of at least 36 months and as much as five years, higher than the 10- to 16-month sentence recommended in the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.
Neither the new U.S. attorney, Thomas Walker, nor the prosecutor, Banumathi Rangarajan, would discuss why they're seeking a higher sentence. The motion for a higher sentence describes a gruesome, blood-stained scene where winning dogs barely survived and losing dogs were electrocuted, their carcasses found in a pit where garbage was burned.