Lengthy Mandatory Minimum Sentence for Dogfighters
Lengthy Mandatory Minimum Sentence for Dogfighters
Why this petition matters
Cleveland, Ohio, dogfighter Angelo McCoy was first arrested for dogfighting during a November 2014 raid in Akron. "A concession stand outside sold hot dogs and refreshments," cleveland.com reported. "After police raided the home Saturday using an armored truck, they found about $30,000 scattered through the yard and eight pit bulls — six ready to fight and two bloodied dogs inside the ring." This raid involved nearly "100 Akron police officers, two SWAT teams and Summit County Sheriff's deputies" and resulted in the arrest of 47 people from around Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and California.
McCoy, who ran from officers that night, was sentenced to a year of probation rather than prison.
While McCoy was on probation, he was busted for dogfighting again -- in June 2015. "He was sentenced to 10 months in prison," cleveland.com reported.
Both judges told McCoy that he wasn't allowed to have more dogs, but when McCoy was busted with "112 grams of heroin, 21 grams of cocaine, more than 400 prescription pills [and] $8,591 cash" during a January 2020 drug investigation, police found 11 injured dogs and one dead dog behind his house. McCoy was arrested for dogfighting a third time and allowed out on $25,000 bond.
In November 2020, while McCoy remained out on bond for his third arrest, I caught someone using Craigslist to collect bait animals for him. Later, I caught them using Craigslist to communicate with each other. Just before Thanksgiving, I realized he had a woman named Celina breeding kittens for him.
With the exception of the cat who was killed in Akron in the upper right corner of this tweet, these are just SOME of the cats and kittens McCoy has given to his pitbulls to tear apart since he was allowed out on bond in February 2020:
Who knows how many dogs he's killed. All of these deaths could've been prevented by giving McCoy the prison sentence he deserved the first time.
McCoy's case highlights two problems with dogfighters. First, as you can tell from him and the following repeat offenders, dogfighters don't stop fighting dogs unless they're in prison.
- Florida dogfighter Roy Chester Bennett was busted for dogfighting in 1995 and again in 2016;
- Ohio dogfighter Jerry Buchanan was busted for dogfighting in 2004 and again in 2017;
- Georgia dogfighter Willie Dasher was busted for dogfighting in 2004 and again in 2018;
- Louisiana dogfighter Kevin Valentine was busted for dogfighting in 2004, 2006 and 2018;
- Alabama dogfighter Terrance McNeil was busted for dogfighting in 2008 and, like Cleveland dogfighter Angelo McCoy, he was busted again months later while out on bond. He was busted a third time in 2011 and sentenced to 10 years;
- Chicago dogfighter LaRue Jackson, who's also a registered sex offender, was busted for dogfighting in 2008, 2011 and 2015;
- Georgia dogfighter Devechio Rowland was busted for dogfighting in 2010 and again in 2017 (after which he was sentenced to "50 years with 15 to serve," according to WEIS Radio);
- Indiana dogfighter Martin Anderson was busted for dogfighting in 2011 and 2019;
- Pennsylvania dogfighter Dowayne Molina was busted for dogfighting in 2015 and 2018;
- Massachusetts dogfighter Javier Ruperto was busted for dogfighting in 2014 and 2021; and
- Texas dogfighter Kavante Rashad Davis was busted for dogfighting five times -- in October 2017, October 2014, July 2013, August 2013 and October 2013.
Second, dogfighters continue to commit crimes while they're out on bond.
Buffalo, New York, dogfighter Douglas Williams was busted for dogfighting in October 2020. Despite having prior animal cruelty convictions and despite the fact he was on parole for "violent" home invasion, Williams was able to post bail -- and flee. U.S. Marshals found him in Georgia a year later;
Cleveland dogfighter Angelo McCoy has skipped court dates since his January 2020 arrest and he's obviously continued to fight dogs and kill cats and kittens;
- Georgia dogfighter Benjamin “Benji” Shinhoster III was busted for dogfighting in 2018. While out on bond, Shinhoster was "caught trying to sell several dogs," news station WRDW reported. “'The gall of this defendant to continue as a proprietor of death while on bond is unnerving,'” said Jason Williams, special agent in charge, U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General."
Cases like the foregoing are why a Georgia judge denied bond to 15 dogfighters who were arrested in April 2022 and why Georgia dogfighters tend to get more than a slap on the wrist. Dogfighters Chistopher Raines and Jarvis Lockett were sentenced to 11 and 10 years in prison, respectively, in February 2022, for example, and Demetris Deshan Kennedy was sentenced to 20 years in July 2020.
But even in Georgia there's a great disparity in sentences. One could easily argue that Vernon Vegas, who, according to the Department of Justice, "bred, trained, sold and transported dogs for the purpose of dog fighting" and attended dogfights with Christopher Raines and other dogfighters from 1996 to 2020, got a slap on the wrist despite being sentenced to the maximum five years he could receive.
Feds seized 150 pitbulls in the Vegas/Raines case. This year alone, investigators have seized:
- 275 pitbulls from dogfighters in six South Carolina counties
- 100+ pitbulls from Dallas, Georgia, dogfighter Vincent Lemark Burrell
- 40 adult pitbulls and 10 puppies from 19-year-old dogfighter Joshua Mungo in Monroe, North Carolina
- "Around 90" pitbulls from Tuscumbria and Center Star, Alabama, dogfighter Lamarcus Ricks
- 31 dogs from Allendale, South Carolina, dogfighter Dwayne Loadholt
- 20 dogs from Jacksonville, Florida, dogfighter Terry Thomas
- 15 dogs from Many, Louisiana, dogfighter Charles Calvin Akins
- 11 pitbulls from Indianapolis, Indiana, dogfighter Edward Bronaugh, who was busted in Madison, Mississippi
- 13 pitbulls from St. Louis, Missouri, dogfighter Brian Maclin (who told police he's been fighting dogs for 30 years)
- Seven pitbulls from Fairfield, South Carolina, dogfighter David Erving
- Six adult pitbulls from High Point, North Carolina, dogfighter Toriano Cave
- Another six pitbulls from Silver Creek, Georgia, dogfighter Mekiel Woolfork
- Nine pitbulls from Canton, Georgia, dogfighter Randall Thaxton
- 15 pitbulls from Akron, Ohio, dogfighter Ronald Smith
- 96 pitbulls from Georgia dogfighters in three counties
- 33 pitbulls from Largo, Florida, dogfighter Terrell Coley
- 30 pitbulls, four goats and seven rabbits from Gastonia, North Carolina, dogfighter Terrance Cooper
- 16 pitbulls from LeHigh Acres, Florida, dogfighters Anthony Pew Sr. and Jr.
- 27 pitbulls from Donalsonville, Georgia/Panama City, Florida dogfighters
- Approximately 20 pitbulls from northeast Louisiana dogfighters
- 15 dogs ("mostly pit bulls") from Palm Coast, Florida, dogfighter Willie Lee Gardner, who was arrested a second time days before his first trial started.
How many cats, kittens, rabbits, guinea pigs, small dogs and other animals obtained from Craigslist, Facebook, Next Door and other social media apps died terrifying, painful deaths to train those 875 pitbulls and entertain depraved heathens?
The Humane Society of the United States has estimated since the 2007 Michael Vick case that we have over 40,000 dogfighters and people breeding pitbulls for them and another 100,000 "street fighters" across the country. That estimate already amounted to an average of 2,800 dogfighters per state, give or take since there are more dogfighters in Georgia and Florida than, say, North Dakota and Alaska. But those numbers have skyrocketed thanks to inept and possibly corrupt animal control officers, animal advocacy organizations that are advocating for dogfighters and police officers who don't know what they're up against. Cops have no incentive to spend months or even years investigating a dogfighting case when judges are mysteriously recusing themselves over a year into a case and dogfighters like Nasir Azmat are given a 60-day sentence.
I caught Cleveland dogfighter Angelo McCoy killing the cats and kittens people were posting on Craigslist in 2020, when people were posting elderly COVID victims' pets on the site. Imagine cats going from a loving home to losing their owner and not knowing why to being driven away from their home, having their hind legs tied together and being handed to pitbulls.
Now that people are "rehoming" even more pets via Craigslist, Facebook, Next Door and other apps because they were laid off during COVID, are being evicted, are moving to cheap apartments that don't allow pets or can't afford pet food, litter and vet bills on top of inflation prices, there has never been a better time to discourage dogfighters from killing those pets by ensuring they get a lengthy mandatory minimum sentence when they're caught.