JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) -Mississippi has been criticized for years for its weak animal cruelty laws. But Adams County is celebrating a historic week. You may remember the images of dogs in Adams county. More than 50 dogs were found on a property in 2017.
“I’ve never seen anything as horrific as far as animals go as what I witnessed two years ago," explained Adams County Sheriff Travis Patten. "But I also saw the best in people as well.”
Sheriff Travis Patten says it took a coordinated effort and help from other agencies and organizations to help the dogs. But the next step was ensuring Tommie Queen got more than a slap on the wrist.
“In this case there were 42 pieces of evidence logged in as exhibits in this case," noted Patten. "Two years of work.”
The case went to trial this week. Animal abuse investigator Karren Ewing says she is just now breathing a sight of relief.
“That just hasn’t happened," said Ewing of dog fighting convictions. "And not only has there been some cases behind us that never got this far. But there’s things ahead of us. And we needed something strong to send a message to these people.”
Queen was charged with nine counts and found guilty on three on those. That, in and of itself, is historic. The sheriff says it’s the first time that anyone in the state has been convicted and sentenced on multiple counts of dog fighting.
“The max penalty under the old law is three years in prison," said Patten. "The judge, she did her part.”
Tommie Queen will serve a total of nine years, three years for each charge. And Ewing says the weak laws before made it tough to get to this point.
“Proving the dog fighting when you don’t walk in on it is what’s very hard,” described Ewing.
But the case caught the attention of lawmakers the following year and the legislature passed strengthened dog fighting laws in the 2018 session.