Charges Filed in Largest Dog Fighting Raid in Illinois History
Kevin Taylor, 29, of South Holland has been charged with with one felony count of dog fighting, one misdemeanor count each of possession of dogs by a felon and owning sport fighting dogs, and 37 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty as well as with possession of a controlled substance after cocaine was believed to have been found in his home.
The charges stem from a raid on Friday, July 13, at a home near 159th Street and Cottage Grove.
One by one, Cook County Animal Control led at least 37 pitbulls and other dogs to cages in waiting trucks — dogs the sheriff believes were bred and trained to fight.
“Today we made the largest seizure of fighting dogs in the history of the state of Illinois,” said Tom Dart, Cook County Sheriff.
He says it’s the culmination of an eight week investigation. But neighbors say they’ve been calling South Holland police for much longer.
Investigators also confiscated three treadmills they say are used to strengthen the animals — animals with scars to prove their past.
“We have dogs ranging from weeks old puppies to older dogs, quite a few that are damaged,” said Dart. (CBS 2 Chicago)
Authorities said the man who is in custody has a history in this area. He has already been ticketed on other animal-related charges. Authorities said more than a year ago the man was already convicted for attending a dog fight that took place near Pontiac, Illinois.
Authorities do not believe that the dog fights were being held at the South Holland home but they do believe this is where they were being born and bred. (ABC 7 Chicago)
Taylor’s home sits in a residential area, and police found the dogs in a barn directly behind a small ranch-style home.
Inside the barn, an insulation and ventilation system, originally used when a previous owner raised chickens, helped keep down noise and smell, police said.
“People in the area, this is going to come as a shock,” said 53-year-old Charles Dixon, who lives on Drexel Avenue, directly behind the barn.
Dixon complained last year to his backyard neighbor about the smell of dog feces but never saw how many dogs were involved.
“We knew he raised dogs,” Dixon said. “We had no idea he had this many dogs or what they were for.”
Officers wore industrial masks Friday as they rescued the dogs, which were kept in pet transport carriers in the barn and positioned in a way that restricted sunlight. Several of the carriers had bite marks around their openings.
Dart described the conditions inside the barn as horrible.
“It’s very difficult to breathe inside,” he said. “The smell is overwhelming, and the conditions are deplorable.”
Cook County Animal Control personnel were on the scene to take the dogs to local animal hospitals, animal shelters and humane society branches.
Some of the dogs were injured and maimed. Others were in “tip-top condition,” Dart said.
“We have dogs ranging from weeks-old puppies to older dogs, quite a few that are damaged,” he said.
Investigators did not find evidence that led them to believe dog fighting occurred on the premises, Dart said. Rather, the home served as the base for breeding and training, he said.
In the house, investigators recovered a boa constrictor, a computer, suspected crack cocaine and drugs believed to be amphetamines for the dogs, Dart said.
Friday’s search warrant came after the Sheriff’s Department received a tip in May from a resident, and an investigation began at that time, Cook County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Penny Mateck said. (Munster Times)
Sadly, many if not most of these dogs will have to be euthanized. They were bred and trained for only one thing, to fight and fight aggressively to the kill! These are not dogs, like most any dogs seized from dog fighting operations, that can be placed with families. So they are victims from the beginning to the end of their short cruel lives.
Investigators say “most of which will likely have to be destroyed because they’re too violent to adopt out.
Experts also say the animals could have street value as fighters, so, like guns and drugs confiscated in crimes and destroyed, the canines must also be eliminated.”
Now if only we could only eliminate the perpetrators of the cruel crimes so easily!
A horrific process
Dart and investigators said the process by which a happy puppy is transformed into a brutal fighter is simple: First, break the animal’s will by keeping it in the dark, in a cramped cage without adequate food or water, and, on occasion, batter it with loud music. Then, once the animal is reduced to a shell, rebuild it physically and mentally through better feeding, strength training and beatings and torture to make it angry. Then, take it out and bet money on what essentially are death matches.
He lamented the cachet dog fighting has garnered, both in bragging points for gang members and as a lucrative moneymaker.
“That’s one of the things that’s really so troubling,” Dart said. “They become status symbols within the gangs, and it’s also used as a way of making money. It’s not anything like what somebody might say is a harmless offense. This is incredibly serious — the amount of cruelty toward the animals is unbelievable.” (Chicago Tribune)
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