Aftermath of dog fighting case sparks outrage

Posted at 8:53 PM, Apr 10, 2019

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The outcome of one of the largest dog fighting cases in recent history has Middle Tennessee animal advocates outraged.

Five years later, the man at the center of the case is out of jail, and not restricted from owning animals again.

On April 22, 2014, Metro Police raided a home on Pewitt Road in North Nashville and discovered an apparent dog fighting operation. They removed 38 dogs from the property, most of them were pit bulls. Some of the dogs had open wounds and most were in poor condition. Officers also found syringes used to inject the dogs with steroids, treadmills, a breeding stand, and an object hanging from a tree used to condition a dog by building leg and jaw muscles.

Michael Davis, 34, was charged with 27 counts of felony animal fighting and three counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty. He was already in jail on a cocaine trafficking conspiracy charge.

A spokesperson for the District Attorney's office said ultimately Davis pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor charges, spent a year in jail, and owed around $1900 in fees. All his possessions in connection with the dog fighting operation were seized. Davis will be on probation for several years. However, there is no stipulation he can’t own animals again, and he didn’t have to repay any money to Metro to cover the cost of caring for the dogs.

A spokesperson for the Metro Police Department said the lead detective who investigated this case, was prepared to go to trial this month. He added the District Attorney’s office didn’t notify police the case had been settled.

After the dogs were rescued, they were cared for by Metro Animal Care and Control for about 10 days. The care cost Metro $15,000.

“It was at an undisclosed location for a period of two weeks,” said Lauren Bluestone, with Metro Animal Care and Control. “It was a huge undertaking.”

Eventually, all but three of the dogs were moved to rescue operations and were adopted into new homes.

State Representative Bruce Griffey said the penalties need to be tougher for people convicted of animal abuse.

“A lot of times, animal cruelty cases don’t get the attention they deserve,” said Rep. Griffey, a Republican from Paris.

This legislative session, he sponsored House Bill 0852. It would increase the punishment for those convicted of aggravated animal cruelty. It would make the crime an automatic felony, punishable by 180 days in jail and a $3000 fine. It would also require offenders to pay $10 a day to cover the costs of caring for a seized dog or cat. The Bill was deferred to a Summer study in the Criminal Justice Subcommittee. Rep. Griffey said he hoped to bring it back next legislative session for more discussion.

“I want to do something to put out a statement that Tennessee cares about our animals and our people,” said Rep. Griffey.

Brandy Harper, 35, was also charged in connection to the raid on Pewitt Road. She was charged with one count of felony animal fighting and three counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty.