U.S. District Judge Carlos Murguia sentenced Pete Davis Jr. and Melvin Robinson on Wednesday in federal court for their involvement in a gruesome, multistate dog-fighting ring. Both men plead guilty in June to a single count each of transporting dogs to participate in animal fighting.
Davis and Robinson were charged in March after the FBI followed them from Kansas City to a Texas dogfight. During the raid of the event, officers seized 77 dogs, most of them pit bulls, and six chickens. According to court records they owned dozens of dogs—mainly Pit Bulls—who were trained on a treadmill at Robinson’s Kansas City, Kan., home
Pete Davis Jr., who prosecutors say led the operation, received a 16-month sentence, and Melvin Robinson was sentenced to 10 months, Seattlepi.com reports.
Each was banned from owning dogs for three years after being released from prison. Each also must perform 50 hours of community service work.
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Judge Murguia also ordered the men to pay almost $431,000 to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals for the care of 48 dogs seized from the home.
Some of the animals they trained have proved to be too aggressive for the animal rescuers who now care for them, Assistant U.S. Attorney Tristram W. Hunt told the judge. “Many will have to be destroyed. They cannot be adopted,” he said.
Murguia announced the sentences on Wednesday after hearing arguments from lawyers and statements from defendants at two hearings on Sept. 23. Both men appeared remorseful.
“What I did was wrong,” Davis told the judge in September.
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Robinson described his own involvement in dog fighting as a “mistake” and said his involvement has turned into a “nightmare” for his family.
“I can give you my word, I will never be involved in this situation again,” Robinson said. “I take full responsibility.”
Prosecuting attorney Hunt asked for longer sentences for both men than called for under federal sentencing guidelines because of the extremely inhumane conditions in which the Pit Bulls lived.
At a farm in Harrison County, Mo., where some fights took place, authorities found dogs chained to the ground and left unsheltered in extreme weather conditions. At least one died of exposure, reports the Kansas City Star.
“Such cruelty is typical of the crime. It’s a blood sport,” Hunt said. “It’s barbaric.”
Up to a $5,000 reward is offered by The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) for information leading to the arrest and conviction of any person involved in illegal animal fighting. Call 877-TIP-HSUS (877-847-4787). Callers’ identities are protected.