A man who had the corpses of 21 pit bulls in his home in Hampton, Virginia, accepted a type of guilty plea on Jan. 30 and now faces decades in prison.
Vernon Silver, 58, was arrested on March 8, 2017, after Hampton police checking his home in the 200 block of Pochin Place, Hampton, found 21 dead pit bulls and one nearly starved to death on March 6, the Daily Press reported.
Silver was charged with 22 felony counts of animal cruelty; 22 counts of inadequate care of an animal by an owner, a misdemeanor; and 21 counts of disposal of dead companion animals, another misdemeanor.
Hampton police wanted to add a charge of dog-fighting, but according to WTKR, the prosecutor decided there was not enough evidence.
Silver accepted an Alford plea, WTKR reported. This means he did not admit to committing the crime but accepts that the state could prove its case with the evidence on hand. Silver will face between 22 and 110 years in prison when he is sentenced in March.
Gas company contractors working near the house reported a foul odor, prompting the police visit.
Police found six male pit bulls and ten females. Five were so decomposed sex could not be determined.
Silver is not the owner of the home—the dwelling is the property of a woman with a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, mailing address. It is not clear why the dogs were there.
History of Animal Abuse
Silver has a history of animal abuse complaints in Hampton. In 2007, the Daily Press reports, Silver was charged with multiple counts, some of which were dropped while he pleaded guilty to the rest, resulting in fines.
In 2014, court records show, he was charged with 16 counts of animal cruelty, 16 counts of failure to provide for a dog, and 14 counts of not having a city dog license.
In that instance, police raided Silver’s home on Abbey Court in Hampton and found 16 dogs standing in a flooded yard filled with feces. Four more dogs were found in a shed confined in tiny crates, WTRK reported.
Silver was found guilty on four of those charges, the rest were dropped, and again he was assessed fines, this time totaling over $200.
The Daily Press reported that according to court records, that fine was never paid.
Neighbors of the canine charnel house are outraged that such a thing could take place.
Michelle Vandran left the neighborhood in October 2016. While she was there, she told WTKR, she saw Silver abusing dogs on the uninhabited property.
“They were howling all hours of the night,” she said. “He would punch them, pick them up by their throats and throw them, to me that’s abuse.”
Vandran said Silver claimed to be breeding dogs there for a friend.
“He put a brick on them and they’d pull it,” she said. “I guess to build up their hind legs muscles like they were doing fights.”
“Where did he get these dogs from, did he walk into the county shelter and adopt them? If so, how was he able to do that,” asked animal rights activist Shocky Boyajian in an interview with WTKR.
“We hope, in the rescue community, that the third time is the charm and he gets the punishment he deserves for what he’s done,” she said.