Man arrested on suspicion of dog fighting petitions to get dogs back

PIERCE COUNTY, Wash. — A Pierce County man who was arrested last month on suspicion of animal cruelty is now fighting to get his dogs back.

Thirty-seven of the pit bulls taken from Elmer Givens Jr.’s home are being cared for at the Humane Society for Tacoma and Pierce County. The dogs aren’t up for adoption because they’re a part of the investigation, but, because of the influx, every single kennel at the shelter is full.

>> Dozens of dogs removed from suspected dog fighting ring in Pierce County, deputies say

“It’s disturbing. I mean, so many dogs get adopted or bred and then just left to their own devices then they end up in a place like this where they do their best, but it’s really hard,” said Nick Kocher.

Chief Executive Officer Stuart Earley has never seen the shelter this full.

Currently more than 140 dogs are waiting for their forever homes.

“At the moment we are really up to our eyeballs,” said Earley. “We want people to come down, adopt a dog, have a great new member of their family and have a great new forever home for them.”

The shelter has been overwhelmed for weeks.

Dec. 19, Pierce County Animal Control removed 49 dogs from Givens’ Tacoma home after getting a tip multiple pit bulls appeared to be starving and were possibly used for breeding. Deputies said the dogs were malnourished, had scars and were afraid of their owner.

Givens was booked on animal fighting and animal cruelty, but never charged.

Now, he’s is petitioning to get his dogs back. Givens appeared in court Thursday, but his hearing was rescheduled for Jan. 16.

KIRO 7 tried speaking to Givens after court.

“I haven’t been charged with anything, so why are you guys in my face?” he said.

Givens’ case drew a large crowd. Some people held signs outside the courthouse.

"The dogs were found in deplorable conditions. I’m not even sure why he wants the dogs back,” said Barbara Masilamani.

One woman even confronted Givens. She said she wants what’s best for the dogs.

“Even if he were not dog fighting, which I think will be proven to be so, he’s not treating his animals correctly. They were underfed, malnourished, skinny, in horrid conditions, I mean, who does that?” said Theresa Akridege.

In an effort to promote adoptions, the Humane Society for Tacoma and Pierce County is hosting a “Be Their Hero” adoption event. Throughout January, those looking to adopt a dog will receive $25 off adoption fees.

For more information, or to see available animals, visit the humane society’s website.