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Pierce County dog-fighting suspect will not get confiscated animals back

A judge called the conditions the dogs were living in "deplorable."

TACOMA, Wash. — A Pierce County judge ruled that a man arrested on suspicion of animal abuse and dog fighting will not get 48 dogs back that were confiscated from his Tacoma home.

In her ruling, Judge Jeanette Lineberry called the conditions that the dogs were living in on Elmer Givens Jr.’s property “deplorable.”

“I'm not going to allow the return of the dogs to your care,” Judge Lineberry told Givens.

The decision came after about 90 minutes of testimony from both Givens and Animal Control Officer Kerry Bayliss, who helped confiscate the dogs after sheriff’s deputies served a search warrant on Givens’ house December 18, 2019.

Bayliss told the judge a garage where Givens was keeping the dogs had an “overpowering” smell of urine and feces. Inside, she said dogs were caged, lying deep in their own feces.

“The amount of feces build-up that was found in those crates took days, in some cases, to have built up,” said Bayliss.

Bayliss said most of the dogs were emaciated, and some had cigarette burns, pellet gun wounds, and scars on their faces and muzzles.

“The scarring was certainly consistent with what we see with dogs that have been fought on a regular basis,” said Bayliss.

She also said officers found equipment often used to train dogs to fight, including a “flirt pole,” which she said can be used to train dogs to latch onto an object.

Bayless also said the dogs seemed fearful.

“The dogs became so tense that their muscles were literally standing at attention,” she said. “That is not the mark of a family dog.”

But Givens, who was representing himself in the proceedings, flatly denied fighting his dogs. He told the judge he has had a “passion” for dogs all his life.

“Just for the record, I'm not involved in any dog-fighting,” he said. “[Bayliss] said the dog had scars and was scared of me, all this stuff. I don't know where she got that from."

Givens was released from jail a day after his arrest. He has not been charged with a crime. Adam Faber, a spokesman with the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney said the case is part of an ongoing investigation.

RELATED: Hearing postponed for Pierce County man suspected of having dog-fighting ring

Givens admitted that he was breeding dogs without a license from his home and said he was trying to build a business. KING 5 discovered a website that Givens advertised online called Buck City Kennels. The opening page contains a notice that reads: "If you are thinking about doing anything illegal with a dog or pup from Buck City Kennels- please leave this site now. Any calls talking about dog fighting or cruelty to animals will be terminated."

Leaving the court room empty-handed, Givens told reporters he was “a little upset” by the ruling. “If I'm standing up against a bunch of lies, I don't have a chance,” he said.