WEST CHESTER A Chester County man who hanged and electrocuted dogs as part of a fighting ring run from his basement has been ordered to serve 71/2 to 15 years in state prison.
Shane Santiago of West Brandywine Township referred to dogs as "livestock" and thought he had a responsibility to kill animals if they did not live up to their capabilities, according to the prosecutor.
His sentencing Tuesday in Chester County Court closed a case that began a year ago when investigators found a blood-splattered fighting ring, training tools, and maimed dogs in a West Brandywine home.
Dozens of community members wrote letters to the district attorney and Senior Judge Thomas Gavin. More than 40,000 people signed an online petition asking for a harsh penalty.
"Any crime that involves vulnerable victims, such as children or dogs, will always strike a chord with the public," District Attorney Thomas Hogan said.
Hogan said Santiago deserves "every day of his prison sentence" for endangering the dogs and also his children, who prosecutors say lived in the home and could hear the sound of dogfighting from their bedrooms.
Santiago pleaded guilty last month to charges that included animal cruelty and endangering the welfare of a child. He has a criminal history that includes drug possession, theft, and terroristic threats.
His wife, Laura Acampora, was sentenced last week to 15 to 23 months in prison for her role in the operation. At her sentencing, prosecutor Priya DeSouza said Acampora's youngest child, who is now 3, is still terrorized by memories of seeing a dog stomped to death by a group of men and a pit bull eating another dog.
The judge also ordered the couple to pay $5,000 to the Chester County SPCA for the medical treatment for six dogs rescued from the home.