Bringing Justice to Victims of Dogfighting: Georgia’s New Anti-Racketeering Law
A Crackdown on Dogfighting in Georgia: Arrests and Rescues
In an ongoing battle against animal cruelty, Georgia law enforcement made a significant breakthrough. More than 20 dogs, including several puppy families, were rescued from an alleged dogfighting operation.
The new legislation in Georgia, which classifies dogfighting as a racketeering crime, can now impose severe penalties on those found guilty. We strongly urge the district attorney to utilize the full force of this new law in the prosecution of this case.
The Disturbing Discovery at Dan Cleveland’s Residence
On May 19, 2023, the Jones County Drug Unit and Criminal Investigations Division conducted a search at the home of Dan Cleveland in Jones County, Georgia.
During the search, they found approximately seven pounds of marijuana and five firearms. The officers also discovered disturbing evidence pointing toward a potential dogfighting ring, which led them to secure a second search warrant.
Seizure of Dogs and Dogfighting Paraphernalia: An Immediate Response
Following the warrant, officers seized more than 20 dogs, finding them alongside equipment typically associated with dogfighting, including treadmills, weighted collars, chains, and veterinary medications.
The rescued dogs, now safe from harm, were transported to a rehabilitation facility by Jones County Animal Services.
Cleveland was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and dogfighting.
The New Anti-Racketeering Law: A Powerful Weapon Against Dogfighting
Georgia’s Governor, Brian Kemp, signed SB 68 into law in May 2023, incorporating dogfighting into the state’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.
This law provides prosecutors with a powerful tool to impose additional penalties on those involved in the gruesome act of dogfighting. Individuals found guilty of this crime may now face a fine and prison term of between 5 to 20 years.
The Interconnected Web of Criminal Activities: Beyond Dogfighting
Dogfighting and cockfighting are not isolated crimes. They are often closely linked with other illegal activities such as animal cruelty, gambling, drug trafficking, and illegal possession of firearms.
By recognizing dogfighting as a racketeering activity, this new law allows prosecutors to make a significant impact in combating these interconnected crimes.
We call upon Georgians and all advocates for animal rights to join us in seeking comprehensive racketeering charges for Cleveland.
Together, we can use this powerful new legislation to help ensure justice for these innocent animals, put an end to their misery, and potentially deter future dogfighting activities in the state.