Warning: Some people may find the images in this post disturbing.
Devechio Rowland has been sentenced to 15 years in prison and another 35 on probation for starving, abusing and abandoning more than 100 dogs in the woods of Polk County, Georgia last year.
Approximately 30 animal rights advocates sat outside the courthouse with a few of the dogs that suffered at Rowland’s hands. Some cried when they learned the abuser’s sentence.
“I’m not good at all,” one man told NBC 11Alive. “I think that’s a slap on the wrist.”
The man is currently working to rehabilitate one of the dogs. He called the sentence “an insult” to the 107 dogs chained and left to starve in the woods of Aragon, Georgia. Another rescuer stated that her foster dog, Dani, was “worth more”.
“I’ve fostered a lot of dogs and I’ve never had one so emotionally broken,” she said.
The case began when the Polk County Police Department received an anonymous tip in August 2017, leading animal control to the chained and starving dogs.
At the end of April, the judge found Rowland guilty on all 214 counts of animal cruelty, including 107 felony counts for dog fighting and 107 misdemeanor counts for animal abuse. Unfortunately, due to a technicality in the law, Rowland was not eligible for felony aggravated abuse charges.
“We wanted felony, but according to the statute, it has to be aggravated, which means he has to break their bones or damage them, so it doesn’t meet the threshold of a felony,” Polk County Police Chief Kenny Dodd said at the time of conviction.
The district attorney in the case pushed for a 50-year sentence with 20 to serve in jail citing legal precedent from another state’s animal cruelty case.
Rowland’s lawyer called that proposal “ridiculous” and fought for a total sentence of one year in jail with credit for the 5 months he already served. He argued that the state of Georgia is more concerned with the un-taxable gambling aspect of dog fighting, rather than the violence against animals.
Volunteers and animal advocates found much of the defense’s arguments to be “heartless”. The attorney stated that a dog’s life is not equal to a human’s and his client should not receive a sentence equal to a crime against a person.
“When people are convicted of real crime like murder or aggravated assault or things like that, 50 years with 20 to serve might be too much on an aggravated assault case,” he said. “I mean, we don’t hear too many 50 years to serve 20 on an aggravated assault case or a child abuse case or anything like that.”
He went on to say that demanding such a high sentence for cruelty against dogs may lead to similar punishments for the deaths of animals that humans eat, like chickens.
“What’s next? Goes out to Tip Top poultry where they kill thousands of chickens a day and wants to make cruelty charges against them – I mean, it’s as ridiculous as that.”
In the end, neither side got the sentence they hoped for. The judge had an extreme amount of leeway in sentencing, with the ability to impose anywhere from a year to life in prison.
He settled on 50 years with 15 to be served and an extended 35 year probation with special conditions that Rowland can never own a dog, live in a home with a dog or possess anything to do with dogs or dog fighting for the rest of his life.
What do you make of Rowland’s sentence? Was justice served in this case?
H/T & Featured Image via 11Alive.com