A man was sentenced to three years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a $1,000 fine for possession of an animal in an animal fighting venture.
Clay Turner, 61, of Loranger, Louisiana pleaded guilty to possession of an animal for use in an animal fighting venture on June 30, 2021. According to court documents, Turner possessed and trained dogs for the purpose of having them participate in animal fighting ventures. On telephone calls obtained via court-authorized wiretaps, Turner and others discussed gambling on dog fights, arranging and participating in dog fights, sponsoring and exhibiting dogs in dog fights, training, and housing dogs for the purposes of dogfighting, commerce in and transport of fighting dogs and the promotion of dog fights.
In October 2017, a federal law enforcement team consisting of agents from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General (USDA-OIG), the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service, and other agencies executed a search warrant on Turner’s residence in Loranger. During the search, 33 dogs were found on the property, many of which had injuries, scarring, and fresh wounds. Law enforcement also discovered a large collection of dogfighting paraphernalia, including:
- a water tank equipped to force dogs to swim to condition them for fighting
- an electrified prod used in conjunction with the water tank
- two treadmills equipped to force dogs to run to condition them for fighting
- ledgers containing the weights and prices of dogs
- “break sticks” and “flirt poles,” training equipment intended to enhance dogs’ jaw strength
- pedigrees for the fighting dogs Turner bred
- photographs of dogs in inhumane conditions.
“Dogfighting is a particularly cruel form of animal abuse,” said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “Turner bred dogs solely to abuse them, through inhumane training methods and violent fights that left them scarred, severely injured, or dead. These dogs deserved better. As this prosecution demonstrates, those who engage in this abhorrent conduct will be brought to justice.”
“This case lifts the veil on the brutal realities associated with this heinous activity,” said U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans of the Eastern District of Louisiana. “This federal crime exploits animals for the sake of human entertainment and ill-gotten financial gains. Collectively, local, state, and federal law enforcement partners are actively engaged in ending this criminal industry by holding accountable perpetrators who engage in dogfighting and rescuing victimized dogs from this appalling pastime.”
“The provisions of the Animal Welfare Act were designed to protect animals from being used in illegal fighting ventures, which often entail other forms of criminal activity involving drugs, firearms and gambling,” said Special Agent in Charge Dax Roberson of USDA-OIG. “Together with the Department of Justice, animal fighting is an investigative priority for USDA-OIG, and we will work with our law enforcement partners to investigate and assist in the criminal prosecution of those who participate in animal fighting ventures.”
“Animal cruelty is a heinous crime that deserves our ultimate condemnation and serious legal consequences for those who engage in it for ‘sport’ and/or profit,” said Special Agent in Charge Douglas A. Williams Jr. of the FBI New Orleans Field Division. “Today’s sentencing should serveas a reminder to those like Mr. Clay Turner who commit such criminal activity, that they will be held accountable. For their outstanding cooperation and great work, we thank our partners at the U.S. Attorney’s Office Eastern District of Louisiana, the USDA-OIG, and the Environment and Natural Resources Division’s Environmental Crimes Section in the criminal prosecution of those who participated in animal fighting ventures.”
Trial Attorneys Matthew D. Evans, Christopher Hale, and former Senior Trial Attorney Jennifer L. Blackwell of the Environment and Natural Resources Division’s Environmental Crimes Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Shih for the Eastern District of Louisiana prosecuted the case.