Pierce County man who had over 100 dogs seized sentenced on animal cruelty charges
A Pierce County man was sentenced Friday to nearly a year in jail for animal cruelty after more than 100 dogs were seized from his property south of Tacoma over two years.
Several dogs taken from Elmer James Givens Jr.’s Midland property between December 2019 and March 2021 were emaciated, according to court filings, and six were found to have BB pellets embedded in their bodies. Prosecutors said he was seen shooting two dogs with BB pellets in 2020, and charging documents alleged that some animals were locked in crates with no food or water bowls, and other crates had days worth of feces building up in them.
Givens, 43, was sentenced in Pierce County Superior Court to 10 months in jail, according to King 5 News, after he pleaded guilty in March to nine counts of first-degree animal cruelty and one count of second-degree animal cruelty. Judge TaTeasha Monique Davis handed down the punishment, giving the defendant a lengthier sentence than the six months prosecutors had recommended.
“Reaching a sentence that is sufficient enough to reach the desired effect and impress upon you the seriousness of your crime — that’s from your attorney — I do not believe that six months is sufficient,” Davis said, King 5 News reported.
As part of the sentence, Givens also was ordered to give up any animals in his possession, and he was hit with a lifetime ban on owning, caring for or residing with animals.
“Mr. Givens’ actions and his treatment of the animals in his care are deplorable and appalling and he deserves to be held accountable,” deputy prosecuting attorney J. Patrick Vincent wrote in a sentencing memorandum.
Givens was charged in March 2021 with 74 counts of first- and second-degree animal cruelty and one count of animal fighting after law enforcement had executed three search warrants at his property in the 9000 block of Portland Avenue East. When the second search was done, in October 2020, 36 dogs were seized, but Givens allegedly told officers that he’d have more dogs back there the next day, and that he’d do whatever he wanted until he was charged and convicted.
The dogs seized in 2020 were underweight, and some had signs of dog fighting and over-breeding, records state. In another search, investigators found materials related to dog fighting, including betting lists, match sheets and win/loss records. Prosecutors wrote in the charging papers that Animal Control consulted a Humane Society International specialist on the case who said Givens and his dogs had come up in separate investigations throughout the United States and internationally.
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In the course of the investigation, authorities learned Givens had previously been investigated by Seattle Animal Control and the Seattle Animal Shelter as far back as 2003 for purchasing, breeding and transporting dogs across state lines for fighting. Prosecutors wrote that the animal shelter had previously tied Givens to the breeding, sales and fighting of dogs from Buckcitykennels.com. He also ran a YouTube channel under the same name that prosecutors alleged he used to promote dog fighting.
A YouTube channel run by Givens appears to still be active, with a video posted as recently as Friday. It shows seven more videos are expected to go up in the coming months. One is titled “Buck City Kennels Live - Arrested For Dog Fighting With No Evidence - America Will Never Change.”
Givens’ defense attorney, Thomas Weber, wrote in court filings that his client deserved a lighter sentence. The lawyer said Givens’ commitment to his family, the adversities he overcame growing up in an “impoverished inner-city environment,” and his efforts to improve his life and grow from his mistakes showed that he deserved a “second chance” in this case.
Four people wrote letters of support for Givens, including the assistant principal of a Catholic school in Seattle. The administrator said Givens is a parent who is consistently involved in the lives of his children and who volunteers and coaches many sporting activities.
Three people submitted letters to the court requesting Givens receive a maximum sentence, including Kim Koon of Pasado’s Safe Haven, a Washington-based nonprofit that aims to end animal cruelty. Koon, the director of animal cruelty investigations, called Givens a “monster” and said he had demonstrated a “blatant indifference to life.”