Dogs rescued from apparent fighting ring

June 13, 2008 3:54:38 PM PDT
Authorities have uncovered a disturbing case of animal abuse on the Chicago's South Side. Dozens of pitbulls, apparently used in a dogfighting ring, were removed from a home.Officials say the dogfighting problem is getting worse, and they say they need the public's help to stop the violent activity.

Authorities say they have shut down one operation that involved breeding and training dogs to fight for their lives.

In the basement and garage of a West Englewood home in the 7100 block of South Oakley , officials found 31 dogs that were scared and scarred, and some were seriously injured.

"It's heartbreaking for everybody. This is a heinous crime to see this. These animals don't know any better. This is the way that they are trained. This is absolutely horrendous to see stuff like this," said Sgt. Eldon Urbikas of the Chicago Police Department.

County officials say the dogs were bred to fight or be fought. They also said some dogs with extremely long nails appeared as if they had rarely left their cages.

"It looks like ffomr thier feet that they hadn't been out their cages very often," said Larry Drause of the Cook County Sheriff's Police Animal Crimes Unit. "The cages were just wire mesh, and it looked like they had lived in that most of their lives.

Larue Jackson, 50, was arrested and charged for possession of fighting dogs by a felon. Officials say Jackson has served time and is a registered sex offender.

Officers got several tips and had been watching Jackson's home for a month before going in with a search warrant Friday.

"The opens wounds on them are atrocious, and its abundantly clear that these animals were used in fighting. It's abundantly clear that some were used as bait dogs, dogs that are used to teach others how to finght and kill," Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said.

Neighbors said Jackson had lived in the home for three or four years and that they had seen him training dogs.

"We always see him and speak to him, and I actually thought he was training dogs. I didn't know he had that many dogs in the basement. I thought he was a dog trainer," said neighbor Frankie Brown.

"The owners would be here training them or in the back. Sometimes, they would go out into the field, and that was it. He was no trouble, and the dogs were no problem," said Stephanie McCall, who is also a neighbor.

The sheriff said an indication of dog fighting is bringing dogs into a location at night or training equipment. If Chicago area residents see anything suspicious, they are asked to call police to make sure the animals are not being abused.

The sheriff also said authorities are pursuing felon charges against Jackson.

The dogs taken from the home were being evaluated by Chicago's Animal Care and Control.

ABC7 Chicago was told the ten puppies were in good condition, but the adult dogs continuee to undergo evaluation.


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