On Wednesday, July 10, Darryl Bryant, 49, was sentenced by Judge Thomas E. Flaherty to 39 months to 6½ years in prison for operating a dog fighting ring out of his mother's house in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania. Bryant electrocuted dogs that wouldn't fight, authorities testified.
The Allegheny County judge also sentenced Darryl Bryant to 11 years of probation. During his probation, Bryant will not be allowed to own or care for any animal.
"Possibly to the very end, those dogs put their care, trust and confidence in Mr. Bryant, and he let them down," Judge Flaherty said before announcing Bryant’s sentence.
A later hearing will determine the restitution Bryant must pay for the care, treatment and euthanasia of the dogs seized Feb. 24, 2012, from the Bessica Street house Bryant shared with family, the Post Gazette reports.
At that time, authorities found 13 Pit Bulls, some mixed-breed, all between 5 months and 5 years of age, locked in cages. There was dried dog blood spattered on the basement walls.
Bryant was arrested and charged with two counts of animal cruelty and one count of possessing instruments of crime, including bite sticks and two treadmills, which police said were used to condition dogs used in fights.
A veterinarian, who conducted a complete medical examination of each dog, identified dozens of scars on the dogs that she described as “not consistent with normal play,” according to Triblive.com
The dogs seized from Bryant were "emotionally traumatized" and not socialized; and all but two had to be euthanized, authorities told the court on Wednesday. Daisy Balawejder, a coordinator for the Humane Society's Dog Fighting Rescue Coalition, said two of the dogs have been placed with families.
Judge Flaherty told the court he sees dog fighting "as a crime that has reverberations on society," and that he wanted to pass a fair sentence that would stand, as well as "deter others from dog fighting."
Bryant was charged with animal cruelty at least twice before, According to court records. He was charged with three felony animal fighting counts from July 2009 that were dismissed, and -- in a case that was withdrawn -- he was charged with cruelty to animals in May 2001, the Post Gazette reports.
Assistant District Attorney Rachel Fleming asked the judge to impose the maximum sentence of up to 19 years. Bryant could serve as few as 39 months of the sentence. Bryant's defense attorney, Samir Sarna, had asked Flaherty for no more than a year in jail
Pittsburgh police Officer Christine Luffey, the lead investigator on the case, said she thought Flaherty's sentence was fair. “I sleep better at night knowing that the dogs in Pittsburgh are much safer with Darryl Bryant behind bars where he belongs,” Luffey said. according to Triblive.com.
Judge Flaherty said of Bryant’s treatment of the dogs, “Even though they're not human beings, I believe it was cruel and horrendous.”
Bryant declined to speak at the sentencing. Bryant's sister Marva Bryant left the courtroom immediately after Flaherty announced her brother's sentence, according to the report.
“We don't want to see this in anyone's neighborhood,” said Kim Marasco, who was one of about a dozen people who came to the sentencing. She carried a sign picturing a severely beaten pit bull that read: “If you don't report it, you support it.”
Bryant will receive credit for spending 81 days in the Allegheny County Jail. Judge Flaherty revoked his bond for reportedly threatening a juror at a Downtown McDonald's during his trial, according to Triblive.com.
The Humane Society of the U.S. offers a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone involved in dog fighting or cockfighting. If you have information about illegal animal fighting in your area or anywhere, you can call HSUS’ animal fighting tip line at 877-TIP-HSUS and your information will be kept confidential.