Animal Defenders of Westchester

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Animal Defenders of Westchester
P.O. Box 205
Yonkers, NY 10704

Stop Animal Fighting

Animal rights activists protest D.A. Pirro

(Original publication: February 6, 2003)

One of three defendants in a Yonkers animal cruelty case said yesterday that a grand jury was considering more serious charges against him and the other two suspects, who were arrested after police raided a building where pit bulls were being trained to fight.

"I didn't do anything but try to help these dogs and now they want to charge me with a felony and lock me up for three years,'' said Kyle Ellison. "It just ain't fair."

Ellison has insisted since his arrest that he was working for $20 a day cleaning out the dogs' cages.

Chief Assistant District Attorney Clement S. Patti Jr. would not confirm that a grand jury had been convened, but said the case was still under investigation and that additional charges were possible.

"The DA has made it clear that she will seek the highest possible charges that are supported by the evidence in this case,'' Patti said.

Ellison, along with Dean Clymer and Jason Bratton, were each charged with three misdemeanors - fifth-degree possession of stolen property, injury to an animal and failure to insure an animal - on Jan. 14 after police discovered 17 pit bulls, some of them wounded and starving, in a filthy basement in southwest Yonkers.

Also found was equipment used to strengthen some of the dogs, along with antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs and food supplements. Some of the dogs were used as bait to train the fighters, police said, and three had been stolen from a Yonkers shelter. Three dogs had to be destroyed.

While a number of animal welfare organizations have praised police and prosecutors for shutting down the Yonkers operation, six activists turned out yesterday to protest the handling of the case by Westchester County District Attorney Jeanine Pirro's office.

"I'm fed up,'' said Kiley Blackman of the Animal Defenders of Westchester as she led the 90-minute demonstration at the Westchester County Courthouse in White Plains. "We want these people charged with felonies and prosecuted to the fullest. That's the only way we're going to get rid of this kind of activity in Westchester County.''

Carrying signs with slogans such as "Justice for Pit Bulls'' and "Pirro - Dog Fighting is a Felony," Kiley's group said they have also filed a complaint against Pirro with the Grievance Committee of the 9th Judicial District, calling for felony charges to be lodged under the state's Agriculture and Markets law. The complaint, dated Jan. 22, says Pirro should be sanctioned or removed from office if she "cannot act ethically toward animals ... .''

"People who abuse animals are the serial killers and mass murderers of the future,'' said demonstrator Taffy Williams of Yonkers. "If the prosecution is not going to uphold the standards already written in the law, what hope do we have of eliminating this problem?''

Patti also defended Pirro's record on animal abuse, saying that more than 20 defendants have been sentenced to jail time in about 50 such cases.

"The DA herself is an animal lover,'' he said.

Clymer, Ellison and Bratton are out on $10,000 bail and are due in Yonkers City Court on Feb. 28.


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