It’s about time! William Roman pleaded guilty to four felony counts of animal fighting and baiting stemming from one of the largest cockfighting cases in Florida’s history. Back in September 2010, the ASPCA assisted in forensic evidence collection and removal of more than 650 fighting birds from two properties in Lee County.
William Roman and Pedro Lopez, were arrested and charged with multiple counts of animal fighting and baiting, housing distressed animals, and animal cruelty. Lopez was also charged with drug possession. A trial date for Lopez has not been scheduled.
Roman was sentenced to six months in state prison, three years of probation and 100 hours of community service. He was also ordered to pay court costs and cost of prosecution and, as part of the probation, to have no contact with animals for three years.
"These animals were exploited to breed and fight each other to the death," says Adam Leath, the ASPCA’s newly appointed Southeast Director of Field Investigations and Response. "We hope to continue our work in investigating these types of cases to rid the nation of this cruel sport."
An ASPCA team member rescues one of the hundreds of dogs at the failed One More Chance Rescue and Adoption.
Yesterday, the ASPCA Field Investigations and Response Team helped remove 349 living and 76 dead dogs from the failed One More Chance Rescue and Adoption, an unsanitary and overcrowded facility in Springfield, Ohio.
“The shelter operator intended to save animals at risk of euthanasia, but did not have the resources or capacity to provide adequately for these animals,” said Kyle Held, the ASPCA’s Midwest Director of Field Investigations and Response. “Many of the dogs discovered on the property are in critical condition and in varying stages of illness.”
The dogs were seized by the Clark County Humane Society and are being transferred to an emergency shelter at an undisclosed location in Franklin County, where they will be triaged by veterinarians from various groups including Ohio State University. The ASPCA remains in Ohio collecting evidence for potential criminal charges.
Stay tuned to ASPCA.org for more information on this case, and read this week’s News Alert for updated information and more photos from the scene.
A search warrant was executed Tuesday morning for the removal of 676 fighting roosters, hens and chicks from two separate properties in Fort Myers, Florida. The ASPCA, at the request of the Lee County Sheriff's Office and Lee County Domestic Animal Services, is on hand to assist with the removal of the birds, which were voluntarily relinquished by their owners, and to collect forensic evidence for the investigation of a criminal case.
The seizure is the result of an eight-month-long investigation that is still ongoing, according to the Lee County Sheriff's Office. Many of the roosters were allegedly being raised and prepared for fighting, when such birds commonly suffer from punctured lungs, broken bones and pierced eyes, and are fitted with knives and artificial gaffs—long, sharp, dagger-like attachments—to maximize injury.
"Cockfighting is a violent blood sport where the participants—the roosters—don't have choices," said Tim Rickey, the ASPCA Senior Director, Field Investigations and Response. "These birds are forced to be killing machines for entertainment, during which time they die or are left to die a horrible death."
On August 25, ASPCA Humane Law Enforcement Agents arrested Matthew Soto, co-owner and daily manager of Bark & Play, a dog-boarding and day-care facility in Brooklyn, NY. Soto has been charged with five counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty for severely neglecting several dogs boarded at the kennel.
The investigation began in late June after ASPCA Agents discovered that the facility was housing dogs in extremely unsanitary conditions. The animals were left unattended in poorly ventilated areas saturated with urine and feces. Two underweight Pit Bull mixes named Tango and Sweets were transported to the ASPCA Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital, where they were treated for severe urine burns as well as other conditions of neglect. Dr. Robert Reisman, ASPCA Medical Coordinator of Animal Abuse Cases, provided emergency veterinary treatment.
Tango and Sweets were just two of several dogs who had been boarded at the kennel by local rescue groups. "Rescue groups would pay the facility to temporarily board dogs until they found homes for them," says Stacy Wolf, the ASPCA’s Vice President of Chief Legal Counsel for Humane Law Enforcement. "However, several dogs had been left there for months."
Tango, pictured here at the ASPCA, is recovering from his injuries and will soon be made available for adoption.
Soto faces up to two years in jail if convicted. Since the June seizure, Bark & Play has closed its doors to the public.
If you know of an animal whose health is being compromised by neglect or abuse, please report it. Visit our Report Cruelty FAQ to learn how to report cruelty in your neighborhood.