Why it took over a year to charge Pierce County man in sprawling animal cruelty, dog-fighting case

On Thursday a Pierce County judge filed 75 different animal cruelty charges, including animal fighting, against a man who has been in news headlines for more than a year.

In December 2019, Elmer Givens Jr. faced Pierce County officials after about 50 neglected dogs were seized from his property. Investigators at the time found evidence of dog-fighting and breeding, including medications, syringes, first-aid supplies and training tools.

Since that date, animal control has taken 107 dogs from Givens’ property. 

RELATED: King County prosecutors report rise in animal cruelty cases

But some people have questions about the timeline.

"What is taking so long for Pierce County to do what Pierce County needs to do so more dogs don’t get hurt?" said Melenie MacGregor.

One of the dozens of neglected dogs seized from Elmer Givens' property (Photo credit: Pierce County Sheriff's Office/Animal Control)

MacGregor said she has been waiting for some sort of action ever since the first incident.

Since that time, animal control has served two more search warrants, one in October 2020 and another Wednesday night.

RELATED: West Seattle man charged with 17 counts of animal cruelty involving over 220 animals found on his property

A judge placed restrictions on Givens when he first appeared in Pierce County court in 2020. He was not allowed to own more than five dogs. 

"Watching him on social media bragging that he is going to get more dogs," said MacGregor.

Q13 News asked Pierce County officials why it took more than a year to finally bring charges against Givens.

"I certainly understand the frustration people may have when it comes to the delay," said Patrick Vincent. "We wanted to make sure we were doing this right. So, we were waiting for all the evidence."

Vincent is a deputy prosecuting attorney in Pierce County and working on Givens' case. He said the investigation required examination of each of the dozens of dogs seized, which took time.

He also said COVID-19 put a halt on Givens' case progress.

Elmer Givens (Q13 News photo)

"With the pandemic it imposed significant restrictions on what we could do," said Vincent.

He said due to the pandemic there were no jury trials, and bookings for people who were not in custody were limited.

It’s taken more than a year, but for people like MacGregor, it's been worth the wait.

"It felt like a victory. It was very emotional, but I’m also scared; I’m scared he hasn’t been compliant up until this point. Why will he be compliant moving forward? " she said.

Givens appeared in court Thursday afternoon. A judge set bail at $150,000, and he's not allowed to own or breed dogs if he posts bond. 

The Humane Society for Tacoma and Pierce County told Q13 News they expect the 23 dogs from the most recent seizure to arrive Friday, but they will not be available for adoption for a few weeks.

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