A father who is into dogfighting has been sentenced to prison by a Virginia judge. Court documents showed that he took his 7-year-old son to watch these games, especially when their family dog and his son's favorite pet, Cookie Monster, was in the ring.
Odell S. Anderson, 56, was sentenced alongside Chester A. Moody, 47, and Emmanuel A. Powe, 46. According to People, the trio also sponsored dogfighting exhibition games and participated in "all aspects" of running the illegal activity. They owned equipment for dog training, including breeding stands for female fighting dogs.
In 2016, Anderson took his son to watch Cookie Monster kill two other dogs left to rot in dumpsters. His charges included one count of bringing a child under 16 years old to the dog fight.
Anderson is expected to serve 18 months and will be under probation for three years once released. Powe will also serve the same prison terms while Moody will serve one year and one day.
'Not Acceptable,' Says Judge
Virginia Judge John A. Gibney Jr. said that word should go out to the public that dogfighting is unacceptable. The trio was active in dog fights from 2013 to 2018 in Virginia, Maryland, and New Jersey, but the father has expressed his apologies in court as he pleaded guilty before the judge.
According to Richmond Times-Dispatch, Anderson was a small business owner who was otherwise a "good parent." However, he established the rules for the secret illegal games in King George and had a history of training dogs for this purpose.
The prosecution said that he brought his son to the game to pass the torch to the seven-year-old when the right time came. Anderson told the authorities that he was confident that his boy would not witness Cookie Monster die during the investigation. Of the 300 dog fights he had sponsored and participated in, his animals lost three times only.
However, the prosecution pointed out that the boy likely saw how Cookie Monster's opponents sustained gruesome injuries that ultimately killed them. The boy saw at least two matches with Cookie Monster also getting hurt and injured.
However, Anderson's lawyers asked the judge for leniency as their client had long given up on dogfighting when the investigators began their visits to his house. Attorney Christopher Griffiths said that his client had a "misguided" notion that dogfighting can be a hobby.
He reiterated that Anderson has kept his trucking business afloat with much success and did not earn an income from the illegal activity. The lawyer also said that he is a "good father" to his kids.
Heinous Form of Animal Abuse
In a statement, Virginia's Acting U.S. Attorney Raj Parekh said that dogfighting is considered a "heinous form of animal abuse," and those who engage in these activities need to be brought to justice. Their crimes go against the Animal Welfare Act.
Anderson, Moody, and Power, who led, trained, and bred the dogs, were prosecuted under the Operation Grand Champion initiative involving various federal agents and the Humane Society of the United States. They pled guilty to "one felony count of conspiracy to engage in dogfighting activities."
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