Dogfighter Gets 102-Year Sentence
November 19, 2007
Pit bulls face a brighter future with judges like Ed Jackson cracking down on their abusers.
If sentences surpassing 100 years for convicted dogfighters is any indication, it's time for the record to show that the South is serious about animal abuse.
The Verdict is In
Houston County, Ala., Judge Ed Jackson handed dogfighter Johnny Ray Lewis a 102-year prison sentence on Nov. 13, 2007. According to the Dothan Eagle, Lewis was first arrested in 2005, when authorities uncovered 17 injured and scarred dogs on his property.
Inside Lewis' home was a notebook that listed feeding routines, a diagram of a cat mill (which trains dogs to run by dangling a live animal in front of them), a list of dog prices and a list of dog names that included Gang Bang, Jack the Ripper, Atomic Bomb, Bad Credit and Mad Man.
In September 2007, a jury convicted Lewis of 17 felony counts of harboring dogs with the intent to fight them. Judge Jackson gave him six years in prison for each of the 17 dogs he abused. "It is a type of case that is sensitive to the public," Jackson noted during sentencing.
The Public Demands it
Following Lewis' Sept. 27 conviction, the Houston County Attorney's office fielded emails from people asking prosecutors to seek the maximum sentence and hoping that the judge would comply.
The public reaction to Lewis' case can doubtless be attributed in large part to the increased public awareness—and resultant intolerance—of dogfighting following the Michael Vick case. Across the country, law enforcement agencies have reported a noticeable rise in the number of dogfighting calls since the Vick case made headlines.
The South Takes the Lead
But stiff sentences for dogfighting are nothing new in the South. In November 2004, South Carolina dogfighter David Tant received a then-record, 30-year jail term for dogfighting and related crimes. Tant was notorious as a long-time, high-profile breeder and fighter of pit bulls, and his demise delivered a startling blow to the underground dogfighting industry in the entire country.
Likewise—in 2005—Walter T. Ware was sentenced to 40 years in jail for dogfighting and possession of drugs to enhance the dogs' fighting ability. Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Wright said Ware was the first to be prosecuted under Alabama's stronger dogfighting law and warned that he would not be the last, according to the Tuscaloosa News.
An All-Around Crack Down
Interestingly, unlike Tant, Ware and Lewis were hardly dogfighting kingpins. Rather, they can best be described as dogfighting "hobbyists" whose indecent penchant for shedding the blood of innocent animals cost them their freedom, possibly for the rest of their lives.
These sentences send the message that dabbling in dogfighting—at any level—is unlikely to be dismissed with a slap on the wrist. Dogfighters are being held accountable in a big way.
Listen up here where is it we can convict people this harshly over animals ,yet we let pedophiles a,rapist,murders off with less harsh sentences? I guess it shows wher our country has slipped putting animals before humans ,Hell we do it everyay ,the killing of millions of unborn humans ( Gods Greatest creation) yet these same AR's accept and even condone it? I am not saying there not be punishment for crimes but please lets let the punishment fit the crime!!!!!!!! Hell even Obhama is closing down Guatamo facility for terrorist? Yet a person who isn't societys perfect owner get this!yeah let s let the terrorist walk and screw a dog owner??
Dogfighting foes turn to hot line, billboards
By LEE HIGGINS - firstname.lastname@example.org
Law enforcement officials unveiled a statewide hot line and billboard advertisement Thursday as their latest weapons against dogfighting and other animal cruelty.
The telephone hot line number — (888) CRIME-SC — will appear on 10 billboards that will feature an image of a dog with a scarred face and missing an eye.
Dogfighting can be associated with crimes including gang violence, drug trafficking, serial killings and child molestation, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said.
“If someone will abuse an animal,” Lott said, “they will abuse a human.”
The payout in a fight between two pit bulls in a rural South Carolina ring could be $100,000 — drawing people from New York to Texas, Attorney General Henry McMaster said.
“The message is, if you see something, say something,” McMaster said.
Anyone providing information leading to an arrest and conviction in an animal-fighting case can receive a reward up to $5,000 from the Humane Society of the United States and distributed by CrimeStoppers.
McMaster established a statewide Dogfighting Task Force in 2004, which has made more than 50 arrests, authorities said. More than 300 dogs have been seized.
Dogfighting comes with some severe penalties.
In November 2004, David Tant of North Charleston, considered the nation’s No. 2 breeder of pit bull dogs, was sentenced to 40 years in prison for dogfighting activities. He pleaded guilty to 41 counts of dogfighting and one count of assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature.
In the highest-profile dogfighting case of late, former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick is serving a 23-month term in federal prison after pleading guilty last year to running a dogfighting ring. Some of those fights reportedly took place in South Carolina.
In February, Kenneth Gadson, accused of hanging a dog with an electrical cord to teach blood lust to stronger animals, was found hanged in an apparent suicide.
Richland County deputies had charged Gadson, his brother and a third man with maintaining a training operation for dogfighting.
Often people who fight dogs will steal domestic dogs to build blood taste and train the animals to be vicious, Newberry County Sheriff Lee Foster said.
Lexington County Sheriff James Metts couldn’t imagine if anything happened to his 10-year-old miniature poodle, Buddy.
“It is sad that the problem has gotten to this extent,” Metts said, “but we need to do something.”
Lamar Advertising partnered with Crimestoppers to launch the program, which will continue for at least 30 days, said Scott Shockley, a general manager at the company. Adams Outdoor Advertising and Fairway Outdoor Advertising also have joined the program, he said.
Criminals cross jurisdictions, so a statewide hot line works, Orangeburg Department of Public Safety Chief Wendell Davis said. Animal abuse pulls at the heartstrings, he said.
“Just look at this animal and look into the animal’s eye. If you can’t have compassion for that, there’s something wrong.”
Reach Higgins at (803) 771-8570.
Damn and what did Mike vick get 23 months