Animal Cruelty

SPCA seizes dogs used in cruel dog fighting from home east of Dallas

SPCA seizes dogs used in cruel dog fighting from home east of Dallas

SPCA dog fighting
The dogs seized included pit bulls and German shepherds. Photo courtesy of SPCA

The SPCA of Texas was awarded custody of six dogs that were suspected of being used for dogfighting during a hearing in Kaufman County.

According to a release, on July 12, the SPCA of Texas received a complaint of suspected animal cruelty from the Terrell Police Department's Narcotics Unit. The property and individual had previously been investigated by the SPCA for dogfighting in 2013. During that investigation, 11 dogs were seized by the SPCA, and the owner was charged and convicted of a state jail felony for causing a dog to fight with another dog.

Based on that history as well as information provided by the complainant, an SPCA cruelty investigator was able to get a warrant the same day, and the dogs were quickly removed.

The dogs seized were three German Shepherd mix dogs and three pit bull mix dogs. They were found outside on the property, individually tethered by heavy, metal tow chains. The dogs did not have access to food, water, or shelter, and their living conditions were consistent with the way that game, or fighting, dogs are kept.

One key clue: A treadmill was also found at the scene. Treadmills are sometimes used to train dogs for fighting.

The dogs were transported to the Russell E. Dealey Animal Rescue Center, where they were evaluated and treated by medical staff.

They're underweight and had bite wounds, cuts, scrapes, hair loss, long nails, and scarring from previous injuries. Many of the dogs had several wounds in various states of healing. One dog's wounds were still bleeding.

Dogfighting is punishable by a felony in all 50 states, but sentences for this charge vary from state to state.

Dogs being trained for dogfighting are subjected to cruel practices, including the use of heavy restraints, weights, and drugs or supplements that may influence behavior and isolation to encourage aggression toward other dogs, and in some instances, people.

In Texas, it is a state jail felony to cause a dog to fight with another dog, participate in the earnings of or operate a facility used for dog fighting or use or permit another to use any real estate, building, room, tent, arena, or other property for dogfighting.

Other offenses, including owning or possessing dog-fighting equipment, are Class A misdemeanors.

In 2013, five people were arrested in a dog-fighting ring, including Brian Martin and Antwian Thomas, who were arrested on suspicion of engaging in a dog fight, and three others who were spectators.

Martin was also issued 30 citations for having unregistered and unvaccinated dogs, as well as too many dogs. Martin was convicted and found guilty of engaging in organized criminal activity, and using real estate for dog fighting. He was sentenced to three and five years, plus $10,000 for each offense.

Unfortunately, Martin appealed his conviction in 2015. Judges Elizabeth Lang-Miers, Molly Francis, and Bill Whitehill reversed the charges of criminal activity, finding him guilty only of the lesser offenses of dog fighting, and remanded the case for a new punishment hearing.

Whitehill is still an appeals judge. Lang-Miers is now a partner at Locke-Lord. Francis is still a judge who was involved in reviewing a case where she received a donation and did not recuse herself.

The case will be filed with the Kaufman County District Attorney's Office, who will determine whether criminal charges will be filed.