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'Bait dog' recovering from wounds
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A "bait dog" said to train fighting dogs was found near Old Louisville Road with severe wounds. Investigators are continuing to probe the case for more information on a possible dog fighting ring. - photo by Photo courtesy of HOPE Facebook page

With a name that translates into “brave one,” a dog believed to have been used to train fighting dogs and found on a roadside is recovering from his wounds.

“Kekoa,” which is Hawaiian for “brave one,” has been placed with a foster family in Bluffton, S.C., according to Jessica Grenoble of HOPE, Helping Our Pets in Effngham.

Effingham County Sheriff’s deputies are investigating a case of animal cruelty after Kekoa was found near Old Louisville Road. It is believed he was used as a “bait” dog to train fighting dogs.

A bait dog is used for fighting dogs to practice upon, according to ECSO spokesman Detective David Ehsanipoor.

“They cut or filed down his teeth so he wouldn’t fight back,” Ehsanipoor said.

The dog was found to be starved and had dirt in his stomach. He also had multiple injuries consistent with dog fighting.

Deputies with the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office Humane Enforcement Division were able to rescue the dog and take him to the Rice Hope Animal Hospital for treatment.

“He was badly injured,” Grenoble said.

Kekoa had wounds on his leg that went through to the bone.

“Those are going to take a couple of months to heal,” Grenoble said.

The dog also will be treated by a behavioralist to make sure he is comfortable in all surroundings and try to get him back to a normal life.

“He’s been a wonderful animal, very sweet and not aggressive in any way, shape or form,” Grenoble said.

The animal shelter staff picked out the name Kekoa for the dog, Grenoble added.

“They felt he had been through so much and was still so brave to continue on, that’s why they picked that name,” he said.

Kekoa was placed with his foster family Wednesday, and HOPE has partnered with the Malachi Foundation in Bluffton, S.C., a rescue organization run by dog boarding and grooming business Three Black Dogs.

Kekoa underwent a couple of procedures at Rice Hope Animal Hospital and his vaccinations are now up-to-date, according to Grenoble. But his medical bills are approximately $3,500. HOPE is going to be paying all his rehabilitation and all his medical expenses.

Anyone with information on dog fighting or animal cruelty is urged to contact the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office or Crimestoppers.

This case remains under investigation by the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office Humane Enforcement Division.

Those wishing to help with Kekoa’s bills can send checks to HOPE at PO Box 2601, Rincon GA, 31326, or visit

For more on HOPE and Kekoa, visit HOPE’s Facebook or visit