Sheriff's police interrupt South Side dog fight

November 16, 2008 8:59:00 PM PST
The Cook County Sheriff's Department swept into the basement of a South Side home and broke up an illegal dog fight as it was happening.Deputies arrested 50 people who were betting on the match. Three men are now facing felony dog fighting charges.

The dogs were fighting in a homemade dog fighting ring.

Working on a tip, it was the first time members of the Cook County Sheriff's Department broke up a dog fight in progress.

Sheriff Tom Dart says dog fighting is a highly secretive operation in Chicago that has become quite common. It involves two dogs bred to fight and can last up to two hours. The fighting ends when one of the dogs dies or cannot continue.

The fight had been going on for about 15 minutes Saturday night before sheriff officers and Chicago police swept in with a video camera and broke it up. One dog was still standing, while the other was so badly hurt that it could barely move in the corner of the basement fighting ring.

"Down in the basement, there were approx 60 people, there was 13-year-old, a 15-year-old kid, a pregnant woman, all surrounding the pit," Dart said.

The sheriff said the dozens of spectators and dog owners were crammed an Englewood basement. Dart says the three men charged admitted to organizing the fight and owning the dogs.

Police also confiscated guns and equipment used commonly in dog fights.

"We found tackle box filled syringes, even an IV drip to use if the dog was injured to keep it fighting until the fight is over," Dart said.

Also found were a staple gun to close the wounds on injured dogs.

Sheriff Dart said dog fighting has become big business in Chicago, which is why the Humane Society is now focused on stopping them by educating kids ands offering rewards.

"You can find dog fights typically any week in Chicago. Now, a dog fight can be a couple people gathered on the street or it can be what we found last night," said Jordan Matyas of the Humane Society of the United States.

Matyas says the pit bull is typically the dog of choice, a calm dog by nature. He also says the dogs are trained from birth to be aggressive and fight. The Humane Society warns dog owners that it's not just pit bulls that are at risk.

"They use various other dogs called bait dogs. They can be stolen from backyards or tied up at Starbucks. They use these dogs to train the pit bulls," Matyas said.

Because of that, the Humane Society is pushing for new legislation in Illinois that would upgrade spectator charges from a misdemeanor to a felony.

The Humane Society also offers cash rewards for tips that lead to breaking up a dog fight.


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