Animal Control Officer Admits to Helping Dog Fighter

(CN) – In an ongoing effort to curb organized dog fighting, the Justice Department said Thursday that an Indiana animal-control official pleaded guilty to providing veterinary antibiotics to a Chicago man who drugged dogs used in fights.

Martin Jakubowski, 48, the acting superintendent of animal control and parks for Whiting, Ind., admitted in his guilty plea that he provided drugs to Pedro Cuellar, who recently pleaded guilty to federal dog-fighting conspiracy charges in New Jersey.

Jakubowksi pleaded guilty in the Northern District of Indiana to a single violation of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act for “introducing a prescription veterinary drug into interstate commerce without the lawful written or oral order of a licensed veterinarian,” according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The DOJ statement says the antibiotics provided by Jakubowski – who oversaw Whiting’s animal shelter – were meant to be used to treat two sick shelter cats, but were given to Cuellar to drug his dogs.

Jakubowski admitted to housing several of Cuellar’s dogs at the shelter between 2011 and 2016, and also gifted two of the shelter’s pit bulls to Cuellar without the standard paperwork.

Jeffrey H. Wood, acting assistant attorney general of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, said in a statement that Jakubowski’s prosecution “demonstrates our commitment to end unlawful animal fighting and to bring to justice those who unlawfully participate in this criminality.”

Anthony V. Mohatt of the Agriculture Department’s Office of Inspector General added, “We will aggressively pursue and dedicate resources to assist in the criminal prosecution of those who participate in illegal fighting ventures, which often entail other forms of criminal activity involving drugs, firearms, and gambling.”

Jakubowski’s arrest is part of Operation Grand Champion, which the DOJ describes as a “coordinated effort across numerous federal judicial districts to combat organized dog fighting.” Grand champion is a term used by dog fighters to refer to animals with more than five “victories.”

So far, 98 dogs have been rescued under Operation Grand Champion.

Jakubowski will be sentenced Nov. 17.

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