Police: Man punched dogs, let them fight in York City park

Liz Evans Scolforo

A Manchester Township man is in York County Prison for allegedly allowing his pit bulls to fight in a York City park and punching them repeatedly for about five minutes, according to police.

Aaron Bruce Rankin, 39, of 2712 Woodmont Drive, is being held on $15,000 bail, charged with a felony count of animal cruelty/animal fighting for amusement for gain and summary counts of animal cruelty and consuming alcohol in a public place.

Aaron Rankin

York City Police Officer John Huncher, who filed the charges, is asking presiding District Judge Joel Toluba to order that Rankin permanently forfeit his ownership of the dogs and to prohibit Rankin from owning dogs for a period of time in the future.

Officers were called to Foundry Park in the 200 block of West Philadelphia Street about 8:15 p.m. Friday for a report of dogs fighting.

When Huncher arrived, he spotted Rankin walking two pit bulls on leashes in the park while drinking malt liquor from a bottle hidden inside a brown paper bag, charging documents state.

'Let them fight': Two witnesses in the park told Huncher they heard the dogs fighting, then heard Rankin repeatedly say, "Let them go, let them fight," documents allege.

The witnesses also reported seeing Rankin repeatedly punching the dogs for four or five minutes, according to charging documents.

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One of the dogs was bleeding from his left ear and the left side of his face, according to police, who said there were no visible injuries on the other dog.

Both dogs were seized and taken for emergency veterinary treatment, police said.

Police said a brown paper bag that Rankin set down when police arrived at the park held an open 24-ounce container of Dog Bite High Gravity Lager.

It's unclear whether Rankin has retained an attorney.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.