Friday, October 17, 2008

Dogfighters Walk Free, But Dogs Destroyed

Thanks to some barbaric animal control laws in Louisiana this father and son dog fighting duo walks away as free men while the dogs they victimized by forcing them to fight have already been judged and executed.

From the Daily Advertiser in Lafayette, LA:

Two acquitted of dogfighting
Father, son had faced 48 counts

Shay Randle • • October 16, 2008

A 15th District Court judge acquitted two men of 48 counts of dogfighting on Wednesday.

The judge said a state prosecutor failed to provide substantial evidence of their involvement in the illegal sport.

Floyd Boudreaux, 74, and his son Guy Boudreaux, 44, were on trial for three days for the charges after being arrested more than three years ago.

The men faced the charges after an investigation led Louisiana State Police officers on March 11, 2005, to seize 57 pit bulls the officers believed were being used for illegal dogfighting. The dogs were seized from the men's Youngsville home.

Dogfighting has been illegal since 1982.

Investigators also seized and photographed items prosecutor Ronald Dauterive referred to as items associated with the training of dogs for dog fighting.

Those included home videos, dogfighting magazines, treadmills, break sticks and steroids, among other items.

During the seizure, the Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals took custody of the animals and euthanized them the next day.

This left the defendants' attorney, Jason Robideaux, questioning why further investigation of the animals was not conducted before they were killed.

On Wednesday, prosecution witness Kathyrn Destreza with SPCA could not answer who gave direct orders to kill the dogs before the lead investigator and witness trooper Jacob Dickinson was notified.

The trial began Monday afternoon after the defendants waived their rights to a jury and opted for a judge to make a decision on the case.

The case began to unravel for Dauterive on Wednesday after Robideaux was granted the motion to exclude the prosecution's expert witness from the case.

Kathy Strouse, a superintendent for the Chesapeake Animal Control Unit in Virginia, was brought in as an expert witness by the United States Humane Society. She was involved in the dogfighting prosecution of Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick.

Vick pleaded guilty to a federal dogfighting conspiracy charge in August 2007.

Strouse also testified that she helped investigate and testify against another Virginia man who was convicted of dogfighting charges.

The 15th Judicial District Court Judge Kristian Earls agreed with Robideaux's argument that Strouse's experience was not adequate, as this would have been the first time she was an expert witness in a case she had not helped investigate.

She was also not considered an expert because she had not established herself as an expert through written works.

Earlier in the trial, Dauterive brought forth veterinarian Wendy Wolfson, who reviewed her evaluation of the dogs at the scene during the seizure.

She testified that many of them had scar tissue and scars on the front of their bodies, which usually results from dogfighting.

But this, Robideaux argued, is all the prosecution had that stood as evidence that dogfighting may have taken place among the dogs.

Break sticks, which are used to pry open a pit bull's mouth, were used as evidence against the defendants.

But the sticks had no visible bite marks.

Home videos showed dog training and some dogfighting, but never showed either defendant as taking part of the activities.

"The only evidence the state has is scars," Robideaux said adding that the veterinarian was not able to date the scars or verify who had custody of the dogs before the defendants.

Dauterive said that although no single piece of evidence conclusively pointed to the Boudreauxs engaging in dogfighting, the "cumulative nature of the evidence" demonstrated that the illegal sport was being done.

But Earls agreed that the evidence was not enough.

"I'm not firmly convinced," he said.

The Boudreaux family and friends were overcome with emotion as they hugged and cried after the judge gave his ruling.

Guy Boudreaux, a single parent, said he is relieved that he can finally go back to raising his son after "3 1/2 years of having to worry" about his future.

His father was just as pleased with the news.

"I feel great in the justice system," Floyd Bordeaux said. "I thank the judge and my super lawyer."

Prosecutor Ronald Dauterive refused to comment on the court's decision.

BAD RAP's Donna Reynolds pointed out on the BAD RAP Blog:

We'll let Floyd's Maker sort out his life choices, but we can't let this go without highlighting the archaic Louisiana State Animal Law that gave investigators the green light to destroy nearly 50 dogs within 3 days of Boudreaux's arrest ---and all for naught.

(2) The legislature finds and declares that fighting dogs used or employed in violation of R.S. 14:102.5 are dangerous, vicious, and a threat to the health and safety of the public. Therefore, fighting dogs seized in accordance with this Section are declared to be contraband and, notwithstanding R.S. 14:102.1, officer may cause them to be humanely euthanized as soon as possible by a licensed veterinarian or a qualified technician and shall not be civilly or criminally liable for so doing. Fighting dogs not destroyed immediately shall be disposed of in accordance with R.S. 14:102.2. - LA State Animal Law

When we first learned of Floyd's arrest, we got on the phone to plead for the lives of his dogs, but they were already dead. The news was personally devastating to many of us - Not only were the dogs lost, they were branded as killers, and without any evidence or trial. That case subsequently lead to our fire to help the Vick dogs, before they fell to the same ugly fate.

1 comment:

☼ ♥ Dog Mom ♥ ☼ said...

interesting post on this topic over at KC Dog Blog, just thought I'd share