On April 3, 2014, Tyler Sanders stood in front of Honorable Judge Clayton Davis of Calcasieu Parish's 14th Judicial District Court where he pled guilty as charged to aggravated cruelty to animals and theft of animals ($500-$1500). He also pleaded guilty to one count of possession of marijuana, and one count of operating a vehicle while intoxicated. He was sentenced to 10 years in the Louisiana Department of Corrections, 5 years suspended. After he is released he will have 5 years of supervised probation, community service, and ordered to have no contact with witnesses who are allegedly afraid of retaliation from Sanders. He was also ordered to pay $5000 in fines in addition to restitution for the veterinary costs for Halo's care and recovery, and it was also ordered that he not be allowed to own a pet in the future. Lake Charles Pit Bull Rescue's Renee Smith and rescuer Jess Single were present in court on Halo's behalf and were happy with the outcome of the case. Animal welfare advocates and rescuers see this type of abuse every day and it definitely validating to see an abuser get arrested and pay the consequences.
Sanders was arrested in December 2013 on charges of stealing and then abusing a 3-6 month old pit bull puppy named "Halo". At first Sanders pleaded not guilty but was indicted on the above charges in January. Renee Smith, who has had custody of Halo shortly after he was picked up by Calcasieu Parish Animal Services, states that the innocent pup was "abused for three months, suffering a broken ocular bone in his skull, fractured elbow, and was shot in the head three times with a pellet gun" (see link below for article with photos of Halo's injuries). Despite the obvious horror of this type of abuse on an innocent puppy, there are still those who think Sanders' sentence was too harsh because he shouldn't take up space in jail for hurting a dog, but the fact is Tyler Sanders should feel lucky that he was arrested now instead of a few years from now when he would have committed violence against humans. There are numerous studies correlating animal abuse with violence toward humans, especially in domestic violence situations (see link to article below). Ms. Smith has responded to Sanders' supporters, stating "statistics show that if your not supporting this man being in jail now...you will at some point. These type of people start on animals first and then move on to children, and then adults...so, it's better to have him stopped now, while the casualties are relatively low".
The Lake Charles American Press interviewed the prosecuting Assistant District Attorney, Christy May, who stated
“I think it’s a fair resolution because it holds the defendant accountable, there’s a significant punishment factor and there’s significant time over his head where he’ll be monitored... It sends a clear message to the community that the DA’s office takes these crimes very seriously and the judges at the 14th JDC take them seriously as well.”
Those who love dogs, and those who have fallen in love with Halo, are happy with the consequences given to Sanders today. The rescue volunteers who have worked with Animal Services and the D.A.'s office are to be commended for raising their voices to bring justice for Halo. Animal cruelty should always be reported to authorities because left unpunished, the abusive individual is at high risk for committing more serious crimes against humans. Suspected animal cruelty or neglect can be reported to Calcasieu Parish Animal Services at 337-721-3730.
Local news coverage of Halo's story by KPLC: Click here
American Press coverage: Click here
My previous Examiner story about Halo, with photos of his injuries: Click here
My Examiner story about the connection between animal abuse and domestic violence: Click here
You can follow Halo's progress on his Facebook page named "Team Halo"