Man found guilty on 214 counts of animal cruelty

POLK COUNTY, Ga. — A Polk County jury found a man guilty on 214 charges involving dog fighting and animal cruelty.

Channel 2's Wendy Corona

went to meet up with animal rescue volunteers who dedicated themselves to being at the trial of Devechio Rowland this week.

More than 100 dogs found neglected and tied up in Polk County are part of a dog fighting investigation, police say.

In August of last year, a tip led authorities to two properties where 107 dogs were found malnourished, living in cages or chained up to trees or stakes in the ground. All belonged to Rowland.

Investigators said Rowland has a history of animal cruelty.

He was charged in 2010 with dog-fighting, but the case didn’t go anywhere because the main witness couldn’t testify.


Volunteer Stephen Phillips carried pit bull mix Grace to the steps of the Polk County Courthouse while inside a jury deliberated Rowland's fate.

"I had to come out here for her and the other 106 dogs that she was on that property with," Phillips said.

Kimberly Murphy, the co-founder of Barktown Dog Rescue, was one of the rescue agencies that responded to a scene that was all too familiar for her. She said the scene resembled a dog fighting ring.

She and other dog rescue volunteers were in the courtroom from the start of the trial.

"We're all here to speak for the dogs, to be their voice, to make sure that they receive the justice that they deserve," she said.

When news of the verdict arrived, it brought tears.

"It's good to see that a jury could see the impact on these dogs, and do the right thing," said Roy Polodin, another volunteer with the rescue organization.

Sentencing for Rowland is set for May 15.