District Attorney Steve Cooley announced Friday (Jan. 27) the most recent $5,000 reward paid by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) to an anonymous tipster who led authorities to an Antelope Valley couple deeply immersed in the blood sport of dogfighting.
“Guinness,” an 11-month-old black-and-white male pitbull mix, attended the morning news conference with his owner, Carissa Cole of Santa Monica. “Guinness” is one of 14 dogs rescued from the Lake Los Angeles home of convicted dogfighters Jesse and Yvette Jimenez, whose handwritten records included blow-by-blow narratives dating back to the mid 1990s.
“It is my hope that anyone who becomes aware of this criminal activity will use the LA County dogfighting tip line to help put these brutal criminals behind bars,” Cooley said. “Often animal fighting is associated with a subculture of violence, gangs, drugs and gambling. This vile practice will not be tolerated in Los Angeles County.”
Since 2009, HSUS and a private local organization have jointly funded a tip line where callers can report dogfighting 24 hours a day in English and Spanish. District Attorney Cooley expressed his gratitude to both organizations for their financial commitment to keeping the tip line viable.
The District Attorney’s Office and HSUS recognized the tipster with a symbolic check. In keeping with the tip line’s confidentiality policy, however, the caller’s name was not released.
Sheriff’s deputies who executed a search warrant at the home of Jesse and Yvette Jimenez discovered 11 adult pitbulls – all bearing scars or fresh injuries – and three puppies. Among the adult dogs was a female pitbull, believed to have borne several litters, whose teeth had been manually filed down to the pulp for the purpose of breeding her without injury to her partner. Found Animals Foundation coordinated the rescue efforts for the seized dogs.
The criminal investigation of the Jimenez residence additionally revealed drugs with children in the home.
Defendant Jesse Jimenez, 44, is scheduled to surrender to authorities Friday to begin serving 365 days of actual time, meaning he must serve the entire duration of his county jail term. Jimenez pleaded no contest on Nov. 30, 2011, to 31 felony counts including dog fighting, willful animal cruelty and animal neglect.
Co-defendant Yvette Jimenez, 42, pleaded no contest to one count of willful animal cruelty and two counts of felony dogfighting on Nov. 30, 2011. She was sentenced to three years of formal probation, completion of an animal cruelty counseling program and restitution. The defendant was ordered released after serving 274 days of actual time in county jail.
“This is yet another case of animal cruelty that warrants state prison but is ineligible due to AB109,” the District Attorney said, contrasting Eduardo Jimenez’s one-year county jail term with pre-AB109 dogfighting sentences of up to five years in state prison.
The District Attorney made a call to action for the public to call or write state legislators for the purpose of petitioning that animal cruelty cases be added to the list of prison-eligible crimes.
The Jimenez case was prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Samantha Macdonald and investigated by Deputy Sheriff Robert Ferrell of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Sgt. Rachel Montez-Kemp of the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care & Control testified as an expert witness during the preliminary hearing in the case.
Other partner agencies including the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care & Control and Karma Rescue also were present at the news conference.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, which boasted the first animal cruelty case coordinator in the country in 2007, is a nationally recognized pioneer of animal cruelty prosecutions and initiatives.