Jail, shelter time in dog cruelty case

By Kelley Benham
Published January 26, 2007

Hewitt A. Grant II, convicted of 80 counts of animal cruelty, will serve time in the place he is most hated - Polk County Animal Control.

A judge on Thursday sentenced the former pit bull owner to 364 days in jail, 5 years of probation and 500 hours of community service at the animal shelter that cared for his abused dogs. Grant's case was profiled in last year's Floridian story "Kennel Trash."

A year ago today, officers from Polk County Animal Control and the Sheriff's Office raided Grant's property in Mulberry. At the sentencing Thursday, officer Mary Kirkland described that scene to the judge: "An ocean of frail bodies covered the property. Pitiful little eyes gazed on with curiosity at the activity surrounding them."

She described heavy chains, battle scars, and puppies that ate "like piranhas" when the officers fed them. Many of Grant's dogs were sick and starving and had to be euthanized immediately.

The jury that found him guilty of the 80 misdemeanors this month acquitted Grant on 43 felony cruelty charges and on a charge of owning equipment for baiting or fighting.

All of his pit bulls, deemed unsuitable for adoption because of their breed and ownership history, were eventually euthanized at animal control.