CLEVELAND -- It was judgment day for Cleveland man accused of running a dog fighting operation in the basement of his East 91st street home.
Collin Rand, Jr., 33, was given the maximum sentence—six months in jail--after pleading guilty to charges including dog fighting, cruelty to animals, drug trafficking and weapons possession.
There was a standing ovation from animal rights activist inside the courthouse, moments after Cuyahoga County Judge Kathleen Ann Sutula revealed her sentence. The judge also had some harsh words, “…you really don't deserve to be in an institution as nice and as plush as our county jail. You are a monster Mr. Rand, you know that?"
Inside the courtroom activists wore t-shirts with the phrase "Hope for the 27.” That’s the number of pit bulls seized from what police called a dog fighting operation in the basement of Rand's home last December. The animals were found tied up, malnourished with open wounds. Many of the dogs spent their entire lives enclosed in small cages and their bodies conformed to the cage walls.
Julie Komopinski, a Cleveland Kennel volunteer says, “They almost didn't look like dogs, their frail bodies shuttering in fear, motionless.”
"Since December, we've been working with seven of these dogs and it has been a long, difficult hard road. Some of them have been a little easier some of them are extremely difficult, some of them we're still working with even after adoption" said Crystal Luli, Director of Ohio Pet Placement.
Judge Sutula, a rescue dog owner herself, says in her 21 years as a judge, she has never received more letters on any case as she's had on this one.
In addition to jail time, Rand received five years community control and will have to pay more than $12,000 in fines.
He will also never be allowed to own a dog again.
The judge says there needs to be stronger laws to protect animals and punish their abusers. She’s telling animal lovers to write to their local legislators and urge them to support State House Bill 108, which would make cruelty to animals a felony in Ohio.