Eight defendants received some of the longest prison sentences ever handed down for operating a dog-fighting ring, the Justice Department announced Wednesday.
The defendants were found guilty after being caught last year operating an Alabama dog-fighting ring. Law enforcement officials rescued more than 350 dogs in what they said they believed was the second-largest dog fighting bust in U.S. history.
“These dogs lived in deplorable conditions that constituted extraordinary cruelty,” said George Beck Jr., U.S. Attorney for the middle district of Alabama. “They were made to fight and if they lost, they were killed.”
The defendants were given sentences ranging from six months to eight years, the longest ever handed down in a federal dog-fighting case, the department said. They will also have two to three years supervised release where they will not be allowed to own a dog, and several will be put into drug rehab.
“This is truly a landmark case for the animal welfare community,” said Tim Rickey, vice president of Field Investigations and Response for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
“We hope this case serves as a precedent for future dog fighting cases and sends a message to dog fighters everywhere that this crime will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Mr. Rickey said.
The defendants are: Donnie Anderson, 50, of Auburn; Demontt Allen, 38, of Houston; Michael Martin, 56, of Auburn; Irkis Forrest, 33, of Theodore, Alabama; William Antone Edwards, 43, of Brantley, Alabama; Sandy Brown, 48, of Brownsville, Alabama; Edward Duckworth, 39, of Decatur, Georgia; and Jennifer McDonald, 36, of Collins, Mississippi.
In addition to the dog-fighting ring, the Justice Department said the defendants were in possession of large amounts of drugs and illegal weapons.