Cases: 4th Circuit approves 60 month sentence for a "legend in the dogfighting community"

US v. Hargrove, 4th Cir. 12/12/2012

Harry Hargrove was a "legend in the dogfighting community. By Hargrove’s own admission, he has been involved in dogfighting activity for over four decades, and at one time he had approximately 250 fighting dogs on his property. Information in the record shows that offspring from one of Hargrove’s fighting dogs, Midnight Cowboy, sold for large sums of money across the country because of its aggressiveness and propensity for fighting. Hargrove advertised his dogs in various dogfighting-related publications, and he is famous in the dogfighting industry for his dogfighting, his breeding activities, his training regimen, and his ability to produce aggressive fighting dogs. His prior criminal history includes a 1983 Georgia felony dogfighting conviction, a 1993 North Carolina animal fighting misdemeanor conviction, and a 2001 North Carolina animal cruelty misdemeanor conviction."

Humans are just the worst.

Humans are just the worst.

Following a conviction of violating the Animal Welfare Act by dogfighting, the District Court sentenced the Defendant to 60 months. The sentencing guidelines suggest a sentence of 0-6 months. The District Court opted for an upward variance noting: "I would say that other than the criminal dog fighters in America, every other person in America would be shocked beyond belief that you could do what [Hargrove] did and come out with a federal sentence of zero to six months....  No one could defend that. No judges. No legislators. No president."

The Fourth Circuit approved the variance, stating that the district Court's rationale was necessary to accomplish the objective of sentencing and had the discretion to increase the sentence to the statutory maximum.

Afterword: For people who like gory details: "the officers found multiple tools and indicia of the dogfighting trade throughout Hargrove’s property, including: a fighting pit that was covered in a significant amount of blood; "break sticks" which are used to break the bite hold of a dog during a fight; modified jumper cables that were used to electrocute dogs; a large debris pit that contained, among other things, dog carcasses; a bloodcovered treadmill with wooden sides; a springpole, which is used to build up a dog’s leg and jaw muscles; an old "jenny," which is used to increase a dog’s stamina by having the dog run continuously for extended periods of time while chasing a bait; large quantities of animal medicines; and hundreds of canine pedigrees."