Peter Talbot / The News Tribune (TNS)
A Pierce County man was sentenced Friday to nearly a year in jail for animal cruelty after more than 100 dogs were seized from his property south of Tacoma over two years.
Several dogs taken from the Midland property of Elmer James Givens Jr. between December 2019 and March 2021 were emaciated, according to court documents, and six were found to have buckshot embedded in their bodies. Prosecutors said he was seen shooting two dogs with BB pellets in 2020, and charging documents alleged some animals were locked in cages without food or water bowls, and other cages had feces built up for days.
Givens, 43, was sentenced in Pierce County Superior Court to 10 months in jail, according to King 5 News, after he pleaded guilty in March to nine counts of first-degree animal cruelty and one count of animal cruelty. on the second grade. Judge TaTeasha Monique Davis handed down the punishment, giving the defendant a longer sentence than the six months prosecutors had recommended.
“Getting to a sentence that is enough to achieve the desired effect and impress upon him the seriousness of his crime, that’s up to his lawyer, I don’t think six months is enough,” Davis said, King 5 News reported.
As part of the sentence, Givens was also ordered to surrender any animals in his possession, and was placed under a lifetime ban from owning, caring for or residing with animals.
“Mr. Givens’ actions and his treatment of the animals in his care are deplorable and appalling, and he deserves to be held accountable,” Assistant District Attorney J. Patrick Vincent wrote in a sentencing memorandum.
Givens was charged in March 2021 with 74 counts of first-degree and second-degree cruelty to animals and one count of animal fighting after police executed three search warrants on his property in the 9000 block of Portland Avenue East. When the second search was conducted, in October 2020, 36 dogs were seized, but Givens allegedly told officers that he would have more dogs there the next day and that he would do whatever he wanted until he was charged and convicted.
The dogs seized in 2020 were underweight and some had signs of dog fighting and excessive breeding, records show. In another search, investigators found materials related to dogfighting, including betting lists, match sheets and win-loss records. Prosecutors wrote in the charging documents that Animal Control consulted with a Humane Society International specialist on the case, who said Givens and her dogs had appeared in separate investigations across the United States and internationally.
In the course of the investigation, authorities learned that Givens had previously been under investigation by Seattle Animal Control and the Seattle Animal Shelter since 2003 for purchasing, breeding and transporting dogs across state lines to fight. Prosecutors wrote that the animal shelter had previously linked Givens to the breeding, sale and fighting of Buckcitykennels.com dogs. She also ran a YouTube channel by the same name that prosecutors alleged she used to promote dogfighting.
A YouTube channel run by Givens appears to still be active, with a video recently posted on Friday. It shows that seven more videos are expected to upload in the coming months. One is titled “Buck City Kennels Live – Arrested For Dog Fighting Without Evidence – America Will Never Change.”
Givens’ defense attorney, Thomas Weber, wrote in court documents that his client deserved a lighter sentence. The lawyer said Givens’ commitment to his family, the adversities he overcame growing up in an “impoverished inner-city environment” and his efforts to improve his life and overcome his mistakes proved he deserved a “second chance” in this case. .
Four people wrote letters of support for Givens, including the assistant principal of a Catholic school in Seattle. The administrator said Givens is a father who is constantly involved in his children’s lives and that he volunteers and coaches many sports activities.
Three people sent letters to the court requesting that Givens receive a maximum sentence, including Kim Koon of Pasado’s Safe Haven, a Washington-based nonprofit that aims to end cruelty to animals. Koon, the director of animal cruelty investigations, called Givens a “monster” and said she had shown a “blatant disregard for life.”