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$5,000 reward for tips on dog fights

January 11, 2008 8:29:39 AM PST
There's a new program in Chicago to eradicate dog fighting. The Chicago Police Department has teamed up with the Humane Society of the United States to launch a reward program for information about dog fighting in the city. And they're asking for help.

Chula, a pit bull was abused as part of an underground operation. After she could no longer bear puppies, her teeth were ground down for her to be used as bait or as a sparring dog for other animals. Her scars

Chula is just one example of what has been seen by officers from Chicago's Animal Crimes Unit. Now a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of people involved in animal fighting will be offered to curb it.

"You look at them. And they wag their tail at you. They're so happy to see you even after all they've been through and endured they still love people," said Ann Chynoweth, Humane Society of the United States. "They'll do anything for people and their owner. And that's what people exploit to make them fight."

The "End Dogfighting in Chicago" program is part of a nationwide effort by the Humane Society. One expert in animal law ran a shelter for abused animals in Schaumberg for seven years. He says interest has peaked due to the conviction of former NFL quarterback Michael Vick on dog-fighting charges.

"I don't think that people will really understood the barbaric nature of it. And I think when people read the accounts of how these animals were not only treated but killed but it really heightens the sensitivity to the fact that these animals are really victims of crime," said Cherie Travis, DePaul University Law School.

Dog fighting thrives in the criminal environment, and making communities safer is at the heart of this reward program. Eighty-six percent of those charged with animal fighting have been arrested for multiple violent offenses.

"Whether you like dogs or not, dog fighting is about brutality. And we must put an end to the senseless torture of living creatures and the psychological scars that dog fighting leaves on children that witness this cruelty," said Rev. Walter Johnson, Waymon Avey Church.

Authorities say 40,000 people are involved in organized dog fighting rings nationwide, but Chicago's experience is more of the impromptu street fights.

tO REPORT DOGFIGHTING CALL 1-800-533-STOP (7867).

Visit PAWS Tinley Park's Web site for info on how to adopt Chula.

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