Dogfighting Kingpin Granted Parole
Without debate, the South Carolina Board of Paroles and Pardons voted 5-2 to grant parole to dogfighter David Ray Tant. After his expected release in early October, he will be under the intensive supervision of a parole agent for six months, and he is ordered to have no contact with dogs and to support himself. Attorney General Henry McMaster, who prosecuted the case, said that the parole board's decision undermines the efforts of law enforcement and sets back the work advocates have done to eradicate dogfighting.
(Charleston County, S.C.) David Tant was reportedly considered by the underground dogfighting community to be one of the top breeders of fighting pit bulls in the country. In April 2004, a land surveyor wandered onto his property and was injured by a destructive device (a booby trapped shotgun) allegedly created by Tant. Authorities searched the property and seized 47 pit bulls, many with injuries consistent with dogfighting. They found dogfighting equipment: caged treadmills, a “rape box” (designed to restrain female dogs that so that they can be forcibly bred), cattle prods, harnesses, a bear trap, homemade gun silencers, dogfighting magazines and remnants of a dogfighting ring. The newly formed South Carolina dogfighting task force, the Attorney General's office, the State Law Enforcement Division, and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms were involved with the investigation.
In November 2004, after two days of a jury trial, the defendant pleaded guilty to four counts of animal fighting and one count of assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison for animal fighting, 10 years in prison for creating the booby trap, and restitution of about $150,000.
On July 21, 2010, six years into his 30 year sentence, Tant was granted his first parole hearing in front of three members of the seven-member parole board. He was not required to go in front of the full parole board because, shockingly, his is considered a non-violent offense. The vote was split 2-1 in favor of parole. Because the partial board did not reach a unanimous decision, Tant will go in front of the full board on September 8.