MEDIA RELEASE: First Felony Conviction for Dog Fighting Under Strengthened Mississippi Statute
Natchez, MS (Nov 8, 2019) — In Defense of Animals has welcomed a historic ruling for animals in Mississippi. On Thursday, November 7, circuit court Judge Debbie W. Blackwell presided over the first felony case charged under the 2018, strengthened Mississippi dog fighting law (§ 97-41-19. Dog fights.) Adams County Sheriff Travis Patten and his deputies made history with the conviction of Tommie Queen on three of the nine counts of dogfighting that he was charged with.
Speaking at the conclusion of the case, Sheriff Travis Patten said, “This case was actually historical for the state of Mississippi because it's the first time... that multiple counts of dog fighting has actually been charged and somebody has been found guilty of it. We don't want to see anybody go to jail, but at the end of the day people need to know that there are consequences for their actions… We are sworn to uphold and protect the rights of all, and that includes the animals as well… I hope it sends a message.”
In November 2017, the Adams County Sheriff’s Department responded to an early morning call to 129 ½ Miracle Road concerning barking dogs. The call led to a three-day investigation culminating in the seizure of 54 dogs and the arrest of Tommie Queen for possessing dogs with the intent to fight them. The statute now allows for a count for each dog involved in a case of fighting dogs, training dogs for fighting, and, or the possession for dogs for fighting.
Testimony in the case from Adams County deputies involved in the case, ASPCA Criminal Investigator Kyle Held and Dr. Robert L. Savant of Natchez Veterinary Clinic, who aided with the on-site investigation, sealed Queen’s fate.
After a two-day trial and four hours of deliberation by the jury, Tommie Queen was found guilty of possessing dogs for the intent to train and to fight them. There were 42 pieces of evidence introduced, including 12- and 15-lb. chains, medical supplies used for enhancing the strength of a fighting dog, and graphic photos of nine of the 54 dogs who were so seriously injured that they had to be euthanized, one with her lower jaw torn off, leaving little but necrotic flesh.
After sentencing, Queen was immediately taken into custody to begin his sentence of three three-year terms of imprisonment to be served consecutively.
In Defense of Animals’ Justice for Animals Director Doll Stanley attended the two-day trial. Stanley was instrumental in aiding Senator Bob Dearing in the passage of his 2018 bill increasing the penalties for dog fighting and enabling law enforcement to charge suspects with multiple counts of cruelty. Stanley previously awarded the Adams County Sheriff’s Dept. with In Defense of Animals’ Humanitarian of the Year Award for its role in dog fighting busts and other justice for animals cases.
Stanley said, “This was a truly horrific case and we thank Judge Blackwell for passing a meaningful sentence for so many dogs who suffered at Queen’s hands for dog-fighting. More than 12,000 In Defense of Animals supporters have made it clear that they want to see justice done for dog fighting victims. We are delighted to see strong animal laws enforced in Mississippi.”
Sheriff Patten told Stanley, “They have to see the law get it right for the animal rights. Because the animals, they can't care for themselves; as people, we have to be better stewards over our animals. And if not, there are people like me and you (Doll Stanley) who are put in place who are going to demand and make sure that justice is sought out and today I think we saw that happen first hand.”
In Defense of Animals has served in Mississippi for 26 years working with law enforcement, the judicial system, fellow advocacies, advocates, and the public to strengthen Mississippi’s animal protection laws and to provide training and resources for the betterment of Mississippi’s animals.
For more information, please visit www.idausa.org
Video: Doll Stanley interviews Sheriff Travis Patten about the historic victory
Images (free for unlimited use, not actual victims of this case)
Sheriff Travis Patten, (601) 442-2752
In Defense of Animals, Doll Stanley, (662) 809-4483, email@example.com
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In Defense of Animals’ Justice for Animals Campaign is actively working with officials in communities, building a groundswell of support for establishing and amending city and county ordinances as part of its campaign to show state lawmakers that Mississippians will not tolerate animal cruelty.
In Defense of Animals is an international animal protection organization with over 250,000 supporters and a 36-year history of protecting animals’ rights, welfare and habitats through education, campaigns and hands-on rescue facilities in India, Korea, and rural Mississippi.