Huge Victory Against Dog Fighting in Mississippi
We are celebrating a historic court ruling for the innocent animal victims of dog fighting in Mississippi. In 2017, two Adams County men were arrested for dog fighting. The expertise of the Adams County Sheriff’s Department while handling these cases has led to the much-needed strengthening of Mississippi’s dog fighting statute as well as a lengthy sentence for one vicious animal abuser.
In August of 2017, Charoyd Henrence Bell was arrested by the Adams County Sheriff’s Department for keeping dogs with the intent to train and fight them. He was in possession of 14 pit bulls and one hound, presumably a bait dog.
Three months later, the Adams County Sherriff’s Department arrested another man, Tommie Queen, for keeping dozens of dogs with the intent of training them for fighting. Queen was in possession of 53 pit bulls and one small bait dog, who was chained to remain in the center of a circle formed by the pit bulls who were being trained to attack. Nine of these pit bulls had to be euthanized due to the horrific injuries they had sustained from fighting.
The media covered both these cases, which compelled the public and law enforcement to recognize the need to strengthen the penalties for fighting dogs in Mississippi... the call was backed by thousands of ardent In Defense of Animals supporters.
At the trial of Tommie Queen, Assistant District Attorney Tim Cotton spoke to our Justice for Animals campaigner, Doll Stanley. DA Cotton indicated that his office had received approximately 13,000 signatures from In Defense of Animals supporters urging District Attorney Ronnie Harper to seek tougher penalties under the existing dog fighting statute MS § 97-41-19.
At a later Natchez, Mississippi city council meeting, Doll Stanley presented Adams County Sheriff Travis Patten with our Humanitarian Award. At the meeting, Mississippi Senator Robert Dearing spoke about his intention to sponsor an amendment to an existing statute as Mississippi Senate Bill 2934, and we agreed to advise him on the language. Thankfully, the amendment was passed in 2018, and has the potential to affect all new cases.
On November 7, 2019, Circuit Court Judge Debbie W. Blackwell sent a strong message to dog fighters when she sentenced Tommie Queen to three consecutive three-year terms of incarceration. This sentence included one term for each of the three out of the nine counts the jury of his peers found him guilty of under the existing 2017 statute. Queen left the courtroom in handcuffs to begin his nine-year term.
Following the sentencing of Queen, Sheriff Patten granted us a livestreamed interview in which he spoke of the rights of all living beings in the county he served. He expressed his hope that the first multiple count conviction and sentencing of Tommie Queen for dog fighting in Mississippi would send a resounding message to the community and anyone thinking to fight or abuse animals.
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