TAMPA — A teen who shot the dog Cabela pleaded guilty Wednesday to aggravated animal cruelty and was sentenced to four years of probation. Natwan Callaway, 17, has to serve seven months in the Hillsborough County Jail as part of his probation, but he received credit for already serving 197 days — almost all of that time.
Authorities said two men came into possession of the female pit bull mix, later named Cabela by police. The men owned fighting dogs and apparently tried to get Cabela to fight, but she was “too sweet-tempered” and not good at it, police said. So in March she was handed over to Callaway and another 17-year-old, who are accused of shooting the dog, tying her to a post near railroad tracks and leaving her to die until she was rescued by police, The dog’s two owners previously pleaded guilty to charges for using the dog for fighting and then giving her up to be shot.
Darnell Devlin, 18, pleaded guilty to similar charges and received a year of community control followed by three years probation. He also was ordered to perform 50 hours of community service and receive a psychiatric evaluation and treatment. He is to possess no animals or weapons and undergo alcohol and drug evaluation and treatment. Kenny Bell, 21, pleaded guilty in May to a felony charge of baiting, breeding owning or possessing an animal for fighting and a misdemeanor charge of abandonment of an animal, according to Mark Cox, spokesman for the Hillsborough State Attorney’s Office. Bell was sentenced to four years of probation, during which he cannot possess any animals. He was also ordered to serve 150 hours of community service work and to pay $1,000 toward Cabela’s vet bills.
In addition to aggravated animal cruelty, Callaway also pleaded guilty Wednesday to armed trespass and being a minor in possession of a firearm. The other teen charged in the case, Bobby Hollinger, is being prosecuted as a juvenile. Callaway pleaded guilty and was sentenced as an adult, Cox noted. But under the plea agreement, Campbell withheld a finding of guilt.
In explaining why prosecutors agreed to the plea deal for Callaway, Cox said, “When we evaluated this case as we did the other cases, we felt like this was a just resolution to the case. The young man has spent time in county jail and he is going to hopefully receive meaningful evaluations if he goes forward in the four years of probation … It was important to us that he is sentenced as an adult, not as a juvenile.”
As part of Callaway’s sentence, he is to undergo a comprehensive psychological evaluation and receive any psychological or anger treatment recommended. He is also to seek at least part-time employment, providing proof of at least 15 job applications a month. Callaway, who has a seventh-grade education, was also ordered by Circuit Judge Lisa Campbell to work toward his high school diploma or GED. He is to perform 50 hours of community service work and wear an electronic monitor for at least a year. His curfew will be 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. He is subject to searches from law enforcement and may not possess any weapon or have any contact with his co-defendants or any animals. “I don’t care if it’s a fish,” Campbell told him. “No animals at all.”