Man sentenced to six months for strangling six-week-old puppies

ROCKVILLE, MD -- A 31-year-old man was sentenced to six months in prison for a 2015 incident in which he strangled two six-week-old pit bull puppies in downtown Silver Spring and resisted against police officers trying to free the animals.

James Edward Jones had pled guilty to charges of animal cruelty and resisting arrest.

In court, prosecutors said that police received calls on the night of June 5, 2015 for a man strangling two puppies on the 2400 block of Price Avenue. Arriving officers found Jones holding the two puppies in the air by their necks.

Prosecutors added that Jones refused to drop the dogs and when officers tried to break his grip, he held the animals tighter. Police were able to free the first dog when they tripped Jones to the ground. It took several more officers and two shocks with a taser before they were able to get the other dog out from underneath Jones.

"This was a savage attack against these animals," said Montgomery County State's Attorney John McCarthy after the sentencing. "These dogs were basically helpless and they were being attacked brutally by a man that was so heavily influenced on drugs at the time."

McCarthy added that he and police believed that Jones was likely high on PCP that night, but said they were not able to draw blood from Jones that night and could not get it tested.

In court, Jones' lawyer said Jones has smoked what he believed to be marijuana that night, but they think it was actually K2, a synthetic marijuana. The lawyer added that Jones has no recollection of that night.

The defense argued against jail time on the grounds that Jones has no history of animal abuse and has been seeking treatment for substance abuse. The lawyer added that Jones had already gone through the painful process of explaining to his four children why the two dogs he bought them were taken away.

The judge in the case disagreed because of the harm Jones had caused to the dogs and added it could have easily been a child.

The dogs, while seriously injured, did survive the attack. Both were eventually adopted, including one by one of the officers who responded to the call that night.

"He’s been with us for two years now. He’s very much a part of our family," said Sarah Martinez, the wife of the officer. She added that they went to see the dogs in the animal hospital the next day and fell in love with the tan one, a male they named Chance. "From that moment, my dog, Chance, just stole my heart and I knew that he had to be ours."

But luck brought Chance back in touch with his sister, a black female eventually named Mia by her new owners.

Martinez said that one day at a dog park, a woman came up and said that Chance looked a lot like her daughter's dog.

"When we got to talking we, go to find out that they were in fact siblings and her daughter had Mia, is her name," said Martinez.

The two owners eventually connected and reunited the siblings. Martinez said the two still have monthly play dates.

As for Jones, he is already serving a prison sentence for a federal gun charge he picked up in Washington, D.C. He is serving out that sentence in New Jersey and is set to finish that sentence in late June of this year. After that, he will begin serving the sentence for this case.

Following his release, he will be on five years probation, during which he must not own or live with any animals and continue substance abuse treatment.