LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Police Department announced the breakup of what it describes as a major dog-fighting operation in a news conference Monday afternoon.
The LAPD's Animal Cruelty Task Force (ACTF) has rescued 17 dogs and made two arrests in connection with the dog fighting ring. One of the two men arrested was sentenced today to three years in state prison on felony dog fighting charges. Arnett William Counts, 42, was found guilty Nov. 5 of 10 counts of unlawfully owning, possessing, keeping or training a dog with the intent to have the animal fight other dogs.
He had asked L.A. Superior Court Judge Bob S. Bowers, Jr. for probation, but Bowers denied the request, saying he believed "this case cries out for some punishment other than probation. Counts' attorney argued that his client's crimes were "a low-grade felony," saying that "it isn't like selling narcotics to children." Bowers instead ordered Counts to serve three years for each of the 10 counts, ruling also that the sentences will run at the same time. "It is a felony and it is a serious matter," the judge said. "Mr. Counts, I think to say that you made a bad decision is an understatement," he added.
Counts told the judge he was "extremely remorseful" and that he "will never be involved in any type of criminal activity again." Still, he maintained he had "never fought a dog" and "never attended a dog fighting match." Counts said he "learned a valuable lesson about associating with certain individuals." Co-defendant Walter Citizen III, 43, pleaded guilty Feb. 8 to five dog fighting charges and sentenced to five years in state prison.
Prosecutors said the ACTF found the dogs -- including two licensed to Counts -- at Citizen's property in March 2007. Many of the dogs were scared, injured and underfed, the LAPD said. The department said some had very recent injuries and open sores. Five of the recovered dogs were turned over to animal rescue groups, while the others had to be euthanized.