POLK COUNTY, Ga. - The man at the middle of what’s been called one of the worst cases of animal cruelty in Georgia history was sentenced Tuesday.
Devechio Rowland was found guilty of more than 200 counts of dogfighting and animal cruelty last month.
Last August, on Rowland’s property, police found 107 dogs that they described as “half-dead.” Horrifying video showed the emaciated animals in need of medical care chained in the woods.
On Tuesday afternoon, Judge Richard Sutton sentenced Rowland to 50 years – 15 years in prison and 35 years of probation.
- Man found guilty on 214 counts of animal cruelty
- 100+ dogs rescued from woods in 'one of the worst' animal cruelty cases
- Dozens of neglected dogs are part of dog-fighting investigation, police say
Several animal rescue volunteers told Channel 2’s Rikki Klaus that they were thrilled with the sentence.
“We’re very grateful that it was 15 years. It was more than we expected,” said Melissa Daywalt, a Barktown Dog Rescue volunteer.
Others said the sentence lays out the welcome mat for dogfighting rings.
“It’s basically telling people you can do it and you’re going to get away with it, and you’re going to spend little to no time in jail,” dog rescuer Stephen Phillips said.
Polk County District Attorney Jack Browning agrees, saying he doesn’t think Rowland will ever learn.
He said Rowland maintained all along that he loves dogs and he did nothing wrong.
Rowland’s family declined to talk with Klaus.
Browning said all 107 dogs needed medical care. Rescuers report the dogs are doing dramatically better now, and many have been adopted.
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