Earlier this week, a man stood before a Michigan court awaiting the charges for a case of animal cruelty. Kelvin Thomas of Oshtemo Township, Michigan went to court because police caught him training fighting dogs in his home. But when the time came for the judge to deliver his sentence, he learned that he would be let off with five years probation, an $8,000 fine. He would not be allowed to own any animals for five years — a mere slap on the wrist, considering that this was Thomas’s third time facing charges for animal cruelty. When all 50 states have animal cruelty laws that include felony provisions and the FBI requires all cases of animal abuse to be reported through a national database, how did this happen?

Sadly, just because animal cruelty laws have felony provisions does not mean that an offender will go to jail. In Thomas’s case, the prosecuting attorney convinced him to plead “no contest,” meaning he would concede to the charge of animal cruelty without admitting guilt, thus avoiding jail time.

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This is all in spite of the fact that Thomas has gone to court a total of three times for charges of animal cruelty! Nearly a year ago, Thomas had ten dogs removed from his home after being accused of training fighting dogs. In 2013, he faced similar charges resulting in 30 dogs being removed from his home and he also faced similar charges in 1993. According to WWMT, Judge Gary Giguere, who oversaw the case, told Thomas in court “If you and the prosecutor had not made this agreement binding on the court, you’d be going to jail for a long time right now.”

The fact that Thomas was able to avoid jail time, in spite of multiple instances of having dogs taken away from him, is an absolute miscarriage of justice. He may have to pay a hefty fine and live the next five years under the scrutiny of law enforcement, but has a lesson been learned? Thomas’s repeat offender history is a clear indication that no criminal charge will likely ever deter him from forcing innocent dogs to fight for profit. If animal cruelty has felony provisions, then where is the justice for the dogs he has abused over the years and most likely, five years from now when he’s allowed to own animals?

Please keep in mind that if you ever suspect animal cruelty, law enforcement recommends that you do not take matters into your own hands. To learn more about what you can do if you suspect an animal of being abused, read the following articles:

Lead image source: Marco Ossino/Shutterstock

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