Man pleads guilty to illegal dog fighting

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A 19-year-old Texarkana man pleaded guilty to illegal dog fighting Monday in Miller County.

Jaquavian Jaqwon Johnson received a sentence of five years probation at a hearing before Circuit Judge Carlton Jones. Johnson must pay a $1,000 fine and $5,240 in restitution to the Animal Care and Adoption Center for veterinary care and boarding costs. Johnson agreed to forfeit dogs he owned and is not allowed to own any animals while on probation.

Charges against Johnson’s co-defendant, Christopher Tremayne Harper, 27, are still pending. Both men were charged earlier this year after dogs with cut ears and other dogs which are suspected of being forced to fight, were seized by animal control authorities in Miller County. In addition to unlawful animal fighting, Harper is charged with aggravated cruelty to a dog, cat or horse, for the alleged abuse of dogs. Both offenses are punishable by up to six years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.

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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 Johnson and noted that his white pit bull had puncture wounds and other injuries consistent with dog fighting. Harper allegedly did not seek treatment for his dog’s cut ears.

Jones scheduled Harper’s case for a jury trial Feb. 26. Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Connie Mitchell is representing the state. Harper is represented by the public defenders office.

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