Who, age

What

Where

When

Last Known Address

Michael A. Davis, 34(1)

38 dogs seized, dogfighting suspected

Boudeuex, TN

Davidson County

April 18, 2014

 

Brandy Harper, 35(2)

38 dogs seized, dogfighting suspected

Boudeuex, TN

Davidson County

April 18, 2014

 

Type of Crime

Other Crimes

#/Type of animal(s) involved

Case Status

Next Court Date /Courthouse

Felony animal fighting & misdemeanor animal cruelty

 Drug trafficking

38 dogs

(1)Alleged

(2)charges dropped in plea agreement

 

Police said Michael A. Davis, 34, was arrested April 12th as 1 of 6 people allegedly involved in the trafficking of cocaine and heroin. As part of the drug investigation, detectives received word of the dogfighting.

Photo courtesy of WSMV A search warrant at Davis' home in the 3500 block of Pewitt Road in Boudeuex, TN, revealed dozens of pitbulls restrained by heavy chains anchored in the ground, along with treadmills, a breeding stand and syringes that police say are used to inject the dogs with suspected steroids.

"Some of the dogs appear to be somewhat healthy. Some appear to be emaciated. One has open wounds," said Metro police spokesman Don Aaron.

A neighbor on Pewitt Road, 35-year-old James Jones, told Metro Animal Care and Control that he had been feeding and watering the dogs since Davis' arrest, and a search warrant of Jones' property revealed a treadmill in the woods and nearly $235,000 cash buried in the ground.

Police said Jones claimed the money was not his, and detectives believe the money was likely tied to the drug trade for which Davis is under investigation.
Jones was not charged with any crime.

Charges in regard to the suspected dogfighting case are pending a review by the district attorney's office. Davis remains jailed in lieu of $250,000 bond on a felony cocaine charge.

The dogs were transferred to Metro Animal Care and Control, where they will be cared for.

Photo's courtesy of WSMV

Update 4/22/14:
The dogs that were rescued from Pewitt Road are at an undisclosed location and health department officials said they want to give the dogs an opportunity to get acclimated to their new surroundings after suffering for so long. The dogs, mostly pit bulls, haven't lived the best of lives. "These dogs don't deserve this. No animal does," said Leighann Lessiter, who serves as the Tennessee State Director for the Humane Society of the United States.

Many of the dogs, according to those close to the case, were literally forced to fight for their lives. "These animals don't deserve to suffer at the hands of their owner," Lessiter said. Lessiter said it is a textbook case of why animal fighting laws in the state should be stricter. "This is a prime example of why we need to strengthen our laws to deal with people fighting animals," she said.

A bill before the Legislature this session would have increased the penalty for those who watch animal fighting, but it didn't pass.
"It would have also closed a loophole in our law right now that currently allows folks to sell animals for fighting without any penalty," Lessiter said. State Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, has fought for 7 years to get the bill passed, but it hasn't happened yet. "My first thought was 'I told you so,' that we should have passed the bill that I carried this year that dealt with animal fighting," Ketron said. "Here's a perfect example of - 1 week after we adjourn - of things continue to go on. I don't know why I can't convince my colleagues to pass legislation in the state."

Davis, sits in jail on drug charges, no charges have been filed as of yet for the suspected dog fighting ring. Many are wondering when will the dogs will be available for adoption. Right now, the animals are considered evidence, and a judge will have to release them first. "When and if the animals are released by the courts, we will work with the Humane Society of the United States to have the animals professionally accessed and work with rescue partners from across the country to have the animals placed," said Rebecca Morris with Metro Animal Care and Control.

HSUS will recommend experts who will evaluate the dogs for temperament and how they interact with people before deciding which ones will be put up for adoption.

Update 4/23/14:
The Metro Public Health Department has requested an internal investigation into Metro Animal Care and Control's response to previous complaints about dog fighting in Davidson County.

Two Metro animal control officers, Billy Biggs and J.D. White, were placed on paid leave - not for disciplinary reasons - while the department's response is investigated.

Brian Todd, public information officer for the Metro Public Health Department, said Davis may have been the subject of previous complaints of animal abuse, but paperwork on those complaints was never filed. Animal control was notified of 2 complaints at the same Pewitt Road address, Todd said. A complaint in 2010 regarded animal neglect and possible dogfighting. And a complaint in 2013 was about dogfighting.

Todd said the dogs who were removed from Davis' home were taken to an off-site location. There, 2 dogs got loose and started fighting each other, killing 1 of the dogs. A total of 5 dogs were involved in the unsupervised incident, with 1 dead, 1 seriously injured and 3 others with minor injuries.
The health department is now supervising the dogs 24 hours a day to prevent any other fights or issues.

Photo courtesy of WSMV

Update 4/25/14:
Metro Police Booking Photo Metro police have charged a north Nashville man with dogfighting and animal cruelty after officers found dozens of dogs this week at his Pewitt Road home.
Davis, faces 27 counts of felony animal fighting and 3 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty.

Update 4/28/14:
Metro Police Booking Photo Metro police have charged a second suspect in connection to a suspected dogfighting ring in north Nashville. Brandy Harper, 35, wife of Michael A. Davis, is now charged with 1 count of felony animal fighting and 3 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty. Police say Harper was released on $20,000 bond, while Davis remains jailed in lieu of $400,000 bond.

Also animal control has returned 9 other dogs to the couple's neighbor on Pewitt Road who has not been charged in the case.

Update 5/09/14:

Davis made a brief appearance in court in which he agreed to surrender the dogs seized last month from his home in exchange for dropping the charges against his wife, Brandy Harper.

And the 2 animal control officers who were placed on paid administrative leave after the raid have returned to work The officers were placed on leave so that the audit could begin and not as a punishment. As for the official Metro report on dogfighting cases, auditors are still working, and there's no timetable for its release.

Update 5/30/14:
The first dog seized last month from a north Nashville dogfighting ring is being adopted out under a new policy for Metro Animal Care and Control. Before last year, every dog seized from the home on Pewitt Drive would have gone straight to doggie death row, because pitbulls were euthanized in Nashville based on nothing else but their breed. But lucky for this batch, a new policy not even a year old is giving them at least a chance at a different kind of home - a real home.
"Since October of last year, we've been adopting based on behavior instead of breed," said Rebecca Morris, with Metro Animal Care and Control.
The goal was to reduce the number of dogs euthanized in Nashville, so each dog now undergoes an individual assessment to determine if it can get a chance at a forever home.

Living proof is a pitbull named Dolly. She isn't a fighting dog anymore. She is a belly-rub dog. Dolly is due to go to her new home over the weekend, and she seems fit for the hearth. "Every dog has to be looked at as an individual. And every dog is the sum total of its experiences in life and its consequent treatment. Just because a dog has been treated badly, they are amazingly resilient creatures and can totally bounce back," said Denice Heatherly, director of the SPCA of Tennessee.
Heatherly praises Metro Animal Care and Control. So much has changed in such a short time, and you can see it in the dogs they save.

"Pits have the most fantastic smiles. They really do. They were born to smile," Heatherly said. It's not yet known how many of the remaining dogs are going to end up being eligible for adoption.

Reference: WSMV