Dogfighter Gets 102-Year Sentence

Escrito por HSUS. Publicado en News in English.

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.

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Dogfighter Gets 102-Year Sentence


November 19, 2007

 

 

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©The HSUS
Pit bulls face a brighter future with judges like Ed Jackson cracking down on their abusers.

By Ariana Huemer

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.

Ariana Huemer is cruelty case manager for The Humane Society of the United States.

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