A 43-year-old Pierce County man was sentenced to 10 months in jail and two years of supervision Friday after pleading guilty to 10 counts of animal cruelty in March.
Elmer Givens Jr. pleaded guilty to nine counts of first-degree animal cruelty and one count of second-degree animal cruelty in a Pierce County courtroom on March 17.
Pierce County Sheriff's Department (PCSD) deputies seized 23 dogs from Givens’ property on the 9000 block of Portland Avenue East in Midland in March 2021. At the time, Givens was already facing 75 animal cruelty-related charges stemming from two previous visits and dozens of dog seizures at the home over the past two years, according to PCSD Sgt. Darren Moss.
Officials said Givens had 107 dogs seized from his home since 2019.
When Givens pleaded guilty, Pierce County prosecutors recommended he serve six months in custody and be given a lifetime ban on owning, caring for, possessing an animal, or residing in any house where an animal is present.
Prosecutors also asked the judge that Givens forfeit any animals currently in his possession, pay back costs for the dogs' veterinary care, and attend animal abuse training.
In November 2019, deputies went out to Givens' property after receiving a complaint about six pit bulls looking starved and cold. Givens brought six of the dogs to deputies who determined that they were underweight and at least four had scarring and other signs of dog fighting, prosecutors said.
Deputies returned about a month later to serve a search warrant and found 48 more dogs, including puppies, in poor to very poor condition, many of which were locked in crates in a garage with no lighting or ventilation and covered in urine and feces, according to prosecutors. Other dogs were housed in outdoor wire kennels or chained to the driveway.
Deputies also found several items indicating a breeding program and dog fighting, including betting lists, match sheets, and fight-training paraphernalia, investigators said. All 48 dogs were seized by Animal Control.
"Several of the dogs were reluctant to walk, and had to be carried to the exam stations," prosecutors wrote in the document for probable cause. "Almost all of the dogs had scarring on their faces and hind legs, indicative that they were fighting dogs."
Givens was arrested and told he was not allowed to keep more than five dogs on his property.
But in October, a neighbor saw a Facebook post that a woman had dropped off a dog at Givens' home. The neighbor grew suspicious and went to Givens' property that night where he found several dogs in kennels and two chained to the ground, prosecutors said.
The neighbor returned with a drone two days later and found several dogs caged outside, with Givens shooting pellet guns at the kennels and chicken coops, striking at least one dog, prosecutors said. The neighbor then went to the property and filmed several dogs in kennels and chicken coops with horrid smells and other signs of neglect.
The neighbor reported his findings to the police, who paid Givens another visit with a search warrant. Again, deputies and animal control officers found dozens of dogs in various states of disarray and more evidence of breeding and animal fighting, prosecutors said.
All 36 dogs were removed for treatment but their owners remained defiant, prosecutors said. "The defendant told the officers words to the effect of: 'There are going to be dogs back here again tomorrow,' " according to prosecutors in the probable cause statement.