Tant's parole hearing moved back

David Tant

The parole hearing date for convicted dog-breeder David Tant has been rescheduled for July 21 in Columbia.

The hearing was reset after his legal team requested a postponement from the state Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services this month.

The original hearing date was June 16.

Tant, 63, formerly of the Charleston area, pleaded guilty in November 2004 to more than 40 counts of illegally breeding fighting dogs.

Another count covered an assault charge when a surveyor was wounded by a booby trap after he had wandered onto Tant's property in southern Charleston County.

Tant was sentenced to 40 years behind bars, which later was reduced to 30 years after he paid restitution.

The upcoming hearing is his first bid for parole after serving six years in the Department of Corrections.

Meanwhile, groups from both sides of the case are trying to launch petition drives seeking differing goals, either to keep him behind bars or for him to be released early.

Harriet G. Thomas, a friend of Tant and his family, is advocating his release, saying Tant has been punished enough and that his case has become overly politicized.

"He's a dart-board for animal rights," she said Thursday, adding, "he's very remorseful" for the incidents that led to his arrests.

Tant was arrested after the booby trap went off.

Authorities later uncovered a variety of implements used in the underground dog-fighting trade that were connected to Tant, including caged treadmills, cattle prods, harnesses, a bear trap, homemade gun silencers, dog-fighting magazines and remnants of a dog-fighting ring.

Officials from the Charleston Animal Society are pressing their efforts to keep Tant in prison, saying his early release after serving six years would minimize crimes against animals and send the wrong message.

"Please let the parole board know that you do not want David Tant to receive parole for his part in the brutal sport of dog fighting," the group said in an e-mail being circulated.

Persons wishing to join the petition effort may contact the parole board through its website at www.dppps.sc.gov. Under the heading "contact us" on the agency's website, interested parties may send messages opposing or advocating Tant's release.

His prison number is 00306170.