As part of our mission to educate & help end animal fighting in Indiana when a case arises where we can send letters to the courts after a guilty verdictct but prior to sentencing we will do so.
Recently a Muncie Indiana man was found guilty of engaging in Dog fighting. [21 out of 23 counts]
Full case report here : [ Rashaan Johnson -Defendant ]
We have provided a “sample letter” that you can send to the judge before January 2013 or use as a guide to assist you in sending your own letter - You can send letters to the Court with your opinions as to the effect this kind of crime has on our community. This type of input is relevant to sentencing and the Court may possibly read the letters and consider them in its sentencing of this case.
*As you might notice we have excluded indicating that these dogs were "Pit Bulls" - we did this because we feel that the breed of dog is irrelevant - It is the "act" that has taken place that needs to be the focus. Animal fighting involving "any animal" is cruel,inhumane & criminal thus why we focus on the "act" not the breed or even species. [ not to mention who really knows what "breed" of dog they were and even if we did know for sure would it really matter? When we take a stand against "animal fighting" it should never be broken down to pin point one certain animal or species- we protect them all. We certainly do not want to send a message that ONLY "Pit Bulls" are used for animal fighting- we all know this to be 100% incorrect. ]
Please remember to always be respectful & professional. We want to remind everyone that while you can send letters with your opinions as to the effect this kind of crime has on our community, what you should not send is send your opinion about what would be a just sentence for the Defendant – We want your letters to count. Sending unprofessional letters that sway off course for what is suggested to be sent could cause your letter to not be considered by the Court. Thank you for being a voice for the animals & your community.
Many of these dogs have already moved on to the next phase of their lives and have forgotten all about what their past held, they are family members now living in the present. While its imperative to them that we allow them to move forward in their lives we, as the advocates for the animals are the ones who need to remain vigilant in our efforts to stop these heinous acts against them.
Get involved in your city/town/village today.
We are always looking for volunteers to help with our efforts to end animal fighting in Indiana.
Thank you for being a proactive citizen for your town.
Sample Letter for Muncie Indiana Courts:
Honorable Marianne L. Vorhees:
I am writing to express my opinion to this court about the effect that animal fighting has on our community. As a citizen of Muncie, I want our city to be known as one that does not tolerate crime of any kind, even when the victims of violence are “only” animals.
While the apparent victims of animal fighting are animals, many studies have shown that there is a connection between animal abuse and subsequent violence to humans.1, 2, 3 Even those who merely attend animal fights become desensitized to violence and are at greater risk for participating in violent acts, not just against animals, but also against people. These studies point to the importance of taking animal cruelty laws seriously, and strictly enforcing them.
Additionally, the charges in this case parallel those from other major animal fighting investigations across the country. Animal fighters don’t just abuse animals; they also participate in numerous other illegal activities such as gambling as well as possession and/or sale of illegal drugs and firearms.4
When asking politicians (and even some law enforcement agencies) to allocate at least some small part of their resources to combat animal fighting in our communities, anti-fighting advocates are repeatedly told that Indiana Department of Correction Records showed few, if any, individuals serving time for animal fighting related offenses. The lack of jail time, in turn, leads the decision-makers to conclude that animal fighting is not a problem, and that nothing further needs to be done to prevent these violent blood sports in the State of Indiana. It is an endless cycle that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy that results in more animal fighting in Indiana. So, reliance on DOC records for evaluating resource allocation makes it critical that animal fighting charges not be pled out, but to instead push for convictions.
Recently a well known professional’s 60 Minutes interview highlighted another reason that law enforcement, prosecutors and judges need to take animal fighting seriously. During the interview, he explained that when police saw and turned a blind eye to “street fights,” it taught him that fighting animals isn’t really a crime. He went from “street fights” where he abused one or two “pets” to allowing the abuse, torture and killing of numerous animals at his property.5
As a member of the community, I believe that it is time to send a clear message that participation in animal fighting at any level will not be tolerated. Whether you are “only” attending or you are actively promoting and engaging in the fights, you will face consequences in Delaware County. As a society, we must end the acceptance and “blind-eye” tolerance of animal fighting.
It is true that the initial victims of animal fighting violence are not humans, but as studies show, eventually those who fight animals can be expected to be violent toward people. Further, unlike humans, the animal cruelty victims truly have no means of escape and no means to cry out for help.
As a citizen of Muncie I feel I must share my opinion to the courts on how the criminal act of animal fighting effects our community and its animals. We must have a zero tolerance in our community for those who take part in such heinous crimes. To “look the other way” or to give minimal sentences is to sanction these horrific crimes, and will do nothing to deter future violence against animals and, eventually, innocent people.
Thank you for your time, consideration and service to our community.
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1. Ascione, F. R. (1998). Battered women’s reports of their partners’ and their children’s cruelty to animals. Journal of Emotional Abuse, 1(1), 119-133.
2. DeViney, E., Dickert, J., & Lockwood, R. (1998). The care of pets within child abusing families. In R. Lockwood & F.R. Ascione, (Eds.), Cruelty to animals and interpersonal violence. West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press. (Reprinted from International Journal for the Study of Animal Problems, 4, (1983) 321-329.)
3. Merz-Perez, L., Heide, K. M., & Silverman, I. J. (2001). Childhood cruelty to animals and subsequent violence against humans. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 45(5), 556- 573.
4. USDA Press Release, August 9, 2010: Pit Bull and Cock Fights Used as Networking Tool for Drug Traffickers; http://www.justice.gov/dea/pubs/states/newsrel/2010/neworleans080910.html