Sunday, October 14, 2007

Chicago Also Home to Cruel Dog Fighting

Yes, I know the last article was disturbing, but unfortunately, even Chicago has a serious problem with dog fighting.


Task force targets Southland dog fights,101407dogs.article

October 14, 2007
By Emily Udell, Staff writer

In the wake of several high-profile dog-fighting busts in the Southland, a regional task force to combat the illegal sport in the Chicago area is up and running, according to Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart.

The task force was created to streamline communication among the county, the Chicago Police Department and the state's attorney's office. The group also recently has enlisted the help of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Dart said.

"The nature of this type of crime is one that clearly goes across jurisdictional lines," he said.

Dart said dog fighting is on the rise, and his department has seen the most activity in the southern part of the county.

According to the sheriff, recent crackdowns by law enforcement can make it more difficult to ferret out offenders.

"The last month or two since we've turned up the heat so much, it's driven this crime more underground," Dart said.

In July, authorities seized from a South Holland barn 37 dogs covered in excrement and found without food or water. It was the largest seizure of dogs in Cook County history.

Kevin Taylor, 29, was charged with one felony count of dog fighting and 37 counts of animal cruelty, as well as one misdemeanor each of possession of dogs by a felon and owning sport fighting dogs in connection with the bust.

In the same month, 12 dogs were seized at a Burbank gas station from two men who were charged with dog fighting and animal cruelty. Two other men were charged with dog fighting-related offenses after a raid on a Ford Heights home in August.

Sgt. Eldon Urbikas, of the Animal Crimes Unit of the Chicago Police Department, equated dog fighting to the rave culture, an underground party scene that emerged in the '90s. He said participation in the sport can wax and wane, depending on the popularity of various breeds of dogs.

"Right now we're at the pit bull cycle," said Urbikas, who added that portrayals of pit bull terriers and dog-fighting culture in rap music has fueled interest in the breed.

Animal abuse, including dog fighting, can be an indicator of other types of criminal activity. Urbikas said there is a link between animal crimes and domestic violence.

Ann Chynoweth, director of the Washington, D.C.-based organization, said the society has been working with Chicago police to develop a multifaceted program to combat the problem that can spread to other cities.

"Chicago doesn't have a monopoly on dog fighting, but it is a significant issue in Chicago," she said.

The humane society has presented workshops to police officers, collaborated on a training video and offered the organization's $5,000 reward for tipsters who provide information leading to conviction.

"Chicago was a good place to try a model program because there were so many good people already working on the issue," Chynoweth said.

She said street fighting, which is more spontaneous than organized fighting, is of particular concern in Chicago.

The organization estimates that about 40,000 people nationwide make high-stakes bets in organized rings and about 100,000 participate in more informal, less lucrative dog-fighting events.

"There's a crisis in Chicago and a few other inner cities throughout the nation," said Tio Hardiman, who works with the Humane Society on preventing street-level fighting in Chicago.

Hardiman and a team of about 15 people strive to dissuade young men and boys from participating in dog fighting by stopping fights as they happen and distributing information about the law and how to care for animals.

Sheriff Dart said the new task force provides the increased communication and cooperation among different levels of law enforcement needed to make a significant dent in dog fighting in the region.

"I'm not naive enough to think we can squelch it completely, but we want to make it very, very difficult," he said.

Emily Udell can be reached at or (708) 633-5969.

n The lowest tier of dog fighting typically involves teenagers fighting dogs on street corners or in yards for $20 to $100 or a pair of gym shoes, according to an expert.

n Second-tier fighters are more organized, fighting dogs in isolated areas, such as abandoned buildings. They wager $500 to $5,000 a contest.

n High-stakes fighters like disgraced NFL quarterback Michael Vick, who pleaded guilty to federal dog-fighting charges, are the most organized and covert. Their stakes typically range from $15,000 to $100,000.

Experts said there is little evidence of sophisticated rings in the Chicago area because they are hard to operate in dense, urban areas.

1 comment:

E.Dain said...

Hi. I just wanted to make you and your visitors aware of an upcoming event by Sue Coe. Here is the press release below.

Media Contact: Elizabeth Burke-Dain, 312.344.8695
August 27, 2007

Images are available electronically.
Interviews are available upon request.

Columbia College Chicago’s Anchor Graphics
November 29, 2007

WHAT: Sue Coe will speak about her work as an artist and social activist as part of Anchor Graphics’ Scraping the Surface lecture series.
Sue Coe has long used printmaking as a means of political consciousness raising. She deliberately keeps her print prices low in order to reach the broadest possible audience. Sales proceeds from certain print editions are earmarked for causes that Coe believes in.
The elephant that Coe, one of the most important politically oriented artists living today, references in the title of her lecture, “The Elephant We Should Never Forget”, is from her 2007 pencil on paper work, Thomas Edison Kills Topsy the Elephant to Promote the Electric Chair. To reinforce the 1903 execution at Coney Island, Topsy was tied down and fed carrots laced with 460 grains of potassium cyanide before the deadly current from a 6,600-volt AC source was sent coursing through her body. She was dead in seconds. The event was witnessed by an estimated 1,500 people and Edison's film of the event was seen by audiences throughout the United States.
“If we can accept that some lives are more valuable and important than others,” says Coe, “then we can be easily manipulated by corporations into killing total strangers in wars, and slaughtering billions of other animals for no logical reason other than profit and power for a tiny minority.”
During her 4-day stay at Columbia College, Coe will lecture and spend time with a group of young women whose lives have been impacted by the sex trade. In a collaboration between the Young Women’s Empowerment Project, Columbia College’s Institute for the Study of Women and Gender in the Arts and Media and Anchor Graphics, Coe will facilitate the making of a series of prints based on the young women’s experiences. This arts project is also part of an ongoing Columbia College initiative entitled, Critical Encounters. This year’s Critical Encounters focus is Poverty and Privilege and the questioning of complex myths and realities that arise out of our cultural and social beliefs about those who have and those who have not.

WHEN: Thursday, November 29, 2007 at 6 to 7:30pm

WHERE: Columbia College Chicago
Film Row Cinema
1104 S. Wabash, 8th floor

COST: This lecture is free and open to the public

MORE INFO:Anchor Graphics @ Columbia College Chicago

Image information:
Sue Coe, Thomas Edison Kills Topsy the Elephant to Promote the Electric Chair, pencil on paper, 2007

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