Saturday, February 28, 2015

Dog fighter receives 25-year prison sentence, lifelong dog ownership ban ......

A Sebring, Florida man who was convicted of dog fighting and animal cruelty received a 25-year-prison sentence yesterday. 
Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office booking photo
Highlands Today reported yesterday that Circuit Judge J. Dale Durrance sentenced James Reed to five years on each of five counts of dog fighting. Reed, who was convicted of 11 counts of animal cruelty and 11 counts of dog fighting, was also sentenced to five years of probation for each of his six felony counts.
Even after Reed gets out of prison, he will still be on probation for an additional 30 years. Reed also received a lifelong dog ownership ban as a condition of his probation. 
Reed's defense attorney, Yohance Kefense McCoy, said that he plans to file a motion to "correct" the sentence and believes that the sentence was inappropriate. He stated: 
We feel this is an incorrect sentence for the charges that the jury found him guilty of.”
A hearing is set for tomorrow to review the motion to "correct" the sentence. 
But Judge Durrance clearly felt that the sentence was just, noting that the 11 victims in this case - mostly pit bulls - were unable to speak for themselves. Durrance described all of the dogs who had been found on Reed's property, outlining the clear evidence of animal cruelty for each animal.
According to Durrance, victims shockingly bore the wounds of Reed's abuse, including open sores; broken teeth; scars on the neck, head, and chest; tears in the ears; "raw necks;" and chafing from a chain. 
Durrance stated: 
The sad thing about this is that (a dog) is supposed to be man’s best friend...but there was clear evidence that Reed raised these dogs to fight, and that's a sad situation for the animals." 
Persons convicted of animal cruelty and dog fighting often do not receive sentences that are appropriate to the severity of their crimes. Michael Vick, who operated Bad Newz Kennels from 2001 to 2007, purchased dogs and a property for dogfighting and then tested the dogs in fights. Those who did not perform well were then shot, electrocuted, or hung.
July 2007, Vick and his associates were indicted by a federal grand jury. The men were charged with violating federal law 18 U.S.C. 371 Conspiracy to Travel in Interstate Commerce in Aid of Unlawful Activities and to Sponsor a Dog in an Animal Fighting Venture.
The charge, which was a felony, had a maximum penalty of five years prison. A charge under the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) for animal fighting would have carried only a maximum penalty of one year per violation.
Vick was only sentenced to 23 months in prison and three years’ supervised probation. 
But Highlands County Humane Society President Judy Spiegel believes that justice was served in Reed's case. 
The sentencing imposed on this case should make it very clear: dog fighting and animal abuse will not be tolerated. The Humane Society applauds Judge Durrance. His decision set a standard and sends a very clear message: This type of abuse is not acceptable will not be tolerated here in Highlands County."

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