February 16, 2012
Ohio Man Convicted of Felony Dogfighting Activities
The Humane Society of the United States Assists Local Humane Society In Securing First Ever Dogfighting Conviction Under Ohio’s Private Criminal Prosecution Statute
Following a nine-month investigation and a multi-day trial, a Jefferson County jury convicted Sherman Bell on one felony count of possessing and training dogs for dogfighting. The Humane Society of the United States assisted prosecutor Jeff Holland and The Jefferson County Humane Society in their pursuit of criminal charges after Bell’s dogfighting operation was raided in August 2010. An HSUS dogfighting expert provided key evidence for the investigation and testified at trial for the prosecution.
Holland presented the case against Bell to the Jefferson County jury pursuant to a unique provision of Ohio law, which allows local humane societies such as the Jefferson County Humane Society to bring criminal charges directly against animal abusers. This is the first time Ohio’s special private prosecution statute has been applied to dogfighting activities. Attorneys from The HSUS assisted Holland with his presentation of the case to the jury.
In 2010, with the assistance of The HSUS Animal Rescue Team and the Jefferson County Humane Society, authorities raided Bell’s property and found dogfighting paraphernalia and seized 200 dogs along with 300 other animals such as reptiles, chickens, roosters, boars and a variety of exotic birds in terrible condition. The animals were discovered by local officials when they arrived on Bell’s property to carry out an arrest warrant for drug and weapons charges. Shortly after the raid, HSUS’ legal team set to work with the Jefferson County Humane Society and Attorney Holland to file criminal charges under Ohio’s private prosecution statute.
"Sherman Bell’s conviction is a huge victory and The Humane Society of the United States is thrilled we could help provide some measure of justice for the hundreds of abused animals in this case," said Chris Schindler, manager of animal fighting law enforcement for The HSUS. "This case should serve as a warning to others involved in this blood sport that their actions will not be tolerated."
Following the 2010 raid, The HSUS led the rescue effort to remove all dogs from the property and set up temporary shelter. Hello Bully also assisted in caring for other animals on site and placing them into foster care and permanent homes.
More than 150 dogs were placed with rescue groups and shelters across the country in several states including Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maine and California.
- The HSUS offers rewards of up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of any person involved in illegal animal fighting. Anyone with information about animal fighting criminals is asked to call 877-TIP-HSUS (877-847-4787). Tipsters' identities are protected.
- The HSUS' policy is that dogs seized in raids be evaluated for adoption suitability.
- It is a felony to own, possess, keep or train a dog for the purpose of dogfighting in Ohio.
- The HSUS estimates that 40,000 people follow organized dogfighting circuits across the U.S. while an additional 100,000 meet on neighborhood streets, alleys and hideaways.
*Video from the Ohio raid, b-roll of dogfighting and current information on the rescued dogs available upon request.
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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the Web at humanesociety.org.