Sentence given for pit bull cruelty

Published 9:04 pm Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Clanton man was convicted of two counts of cruelty to a dog or cat second degree in Chilton County District Court Thursday, Assistant District Attorney C.J. Robinson confirmed.

Justin Lunceford, 20, was sentenced to a total 60 days in jail, in addition to more than $1,000 in fines and 80 hours of community service at the Chilton County Humane Society. Lunceford also faces two years probation.

On July 16, Clanton Animal Control Officer Chris Whittle and Chilton County Humane Society Director Joe Murphy responded to an address on Highway 31 in regard to several complaints.

While talking to the residents, Murphy observed two American Pit bull Terriers with old, severe, infected injuries to their heads and faces.

“The injuries were consistent with those received in a dog fight,” Murphy recalled. “I also observed that many of the other 15-20 dogs appeared to be malnourished and underweight.”

The Chilton County Sheriff’s Department was contacted, and Deputy S. Aldridge responded to take a report.

Lunceford was contacted via phone and agreed to surrender the two injured dogs to the humane society. He also agreed to take the remaining dogs to a veterinarian for an exam and necessary treatment.

The two injured dogs were described as “Fast Lane,” a black, adult male; and “Mama Dog,” a tan and white, adult female. Fast Lane was reportedly covered with puncture wounds on the face and head. He also was described as very thin and had a large amount of hair loss due to skin disease. Mama Dog had a large infected wound to the top of her head and face, and was also extremely thin.

According to Murphy, no medical care had been provided to the dogs. Both dogs were examined by a local veterinarian.

“Due to the severity of their injuries, the poor physical condition of both dogs, and the dog aggression that the dogs exhibited, the decision to euthanize them was made,” Murphy said.

While the injuries were consistent with dog fighting, there was no hard evidence that any illegal dog fighting had taken place. Within a week after the initial response, most of the other dogs had been moved off the site.

Murphy thanked Robinson and District Judge Rhonda Hardesty for their assistance in the case.

“This kind of abuse happens with alarming frequency,” Murphy said. “We’re not going to tolerate this treatment.”

Lunceford defended himself in the case.