Men plead not guilty to dog fighting

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Two men accused of unlawful animal fighting in Miller County have pleaded not guilty.

Christopher Tremayne Harper, 26, and Jaquavian Jaqwon Johnson entered not guilty pleas Tuesday during court proceedings before Circuit Judge Kirk Johnson. Both men are charged with unlawful animal fighting and Harper is charged with aggravated cruelty to a cat, dog or horse as well. The charges are punishable by a fine up to $10,000 and up to six years in prison.

According to a probable cause affidavit, authorities received a report the afternoon of Jan. 13 of men fighting pit bull dogs on property near 11th Street in Texarkana, Ark. When officers arrived, they spoke to two men, later identified as Harper and Johnson, who were in possession of a red and brindle pit bull with ears, “cut back almost to his head.” According to animal rights sources, cutting a dog’s ears back is done to prevent other dogs from latching on to them during a fight.

The dog’s owner, who allegedly gave a false name but was later identified as Harper, claimed he bought the dog with cut ears and promised to take the ailing animal to a veterinarian. The men denied they had been fighting dogs. Later the same day, authorities received another report of dog fighting in the same area. Officers made contact a second time with Jaquavian Johnson and noted that his white pit bull had puncture wounds and other injuries consistent with dog fighting.

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Harper allegedly did not seek treatment for his dog’s cut ears. Both men were arrested in early February and the dogs were taken in by animal services, are being treated for their injuries and held as evidence in the case.

Both men are scheduled to return to court for pretrial hearings May 9.

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