DOG FIGHTING RING BASED AT DAYCARE HOME RAIDED
Wednesday, September 23, 2009 —
This press release contains graphic descriptions of dog fighting
Three people have been arrested and nine dogs are undergoing surgery and rehabilitation after the Cook County Sheriff's Department's Animal Crimes Unit raided a west suburban dog fighting operation, based at a house that also serves as a daycare home, Sheriff Tom Dart announced Wednesday.
Police found a dog with its eye ripped out, a dog with a leg twisted backward and a dog with its lower extremities nearly ripped off its body when they were found Tuesday.
The scene at three different Maywood homes was among the most gruesome officers have uncovered, made even more harrowing by the presence of a licensed daycare operation, Dart said.
Wednesday, state officials shut down the daycare operation. In addition, the daycare operator's husband, Charles Sutton, was charged with felony dog fighting, as was Lance Webb, also of Maywood. Another man, Martez Anderson, was charged with being a felon in possession of an unneutered or unspayed dog, a misdemeanor.
"Kids were playing on a swing set just 10 feet away from a vicious fighting dog and blood-stained floors," Dart said. "The very equipment used to train these dogs to kill was being kept in the garage right behind the house. To be engaged in this sort of activity is disturbing enough, but to take a chance with anybody's children is reprehensible."
The daycare operator insisted she was not involved in dog fighting and maintained children were never near the dogs or dog fighting equipment.
When police arrived at the daycare home, 2101 S. Third Ave., there were 10 children being watched at the house. In a garage behind the house, police found a very aggressive pit bull, with blood on the floor and along the sides of a car. Also in the garage were syringes, medication, bite sticks and harnesses used in dog fights. The chest of the dog found in that garage was shredded from a recent fight and its penis was bitten almost completely off.
Investigators learned the dogs used in this operation were housed nearby at 2025 S. Sixth Ave., home to an ex-con who charged $60 a month for dogs to be kept there. Martez Anderson, 38, was released from prison on a drug conviction in 2006 and was cited Tuesday for being a felon in possession of an unneutered or unspayed dog.
In the garage at Anderson's home, police found an 18-month-old pit bull with three 4-week old puppies. They were all kept in a wire cage soaked in feces and urine, with no signs of food or water for them. All were severely emaciated. Police believe the puppies were already being used in fights, possibly as "bait dogs." One puppy had its left eye ripped out and had several puncture wounds to its face.
In a shed behind that garage, a 1-year-old pit bull was found extremely scarred with its leg turned completely backward. In a crate behind that shed, police found another pit bull that could barely stand.
As police searched the property, they noticed a large opening in a fence separating Anderson’s yard from a neighbor's. In that yard, they saw a badly injured pit bull tied to a logging chain. The dog had fresh fighting wounds, possibly from a fight this week.
The owner of that house, 2027 S. Sixth Ave., consented to a search of his home. In a dilapidated garage there, police found a treadmill which had been altered specifically to train dogs to fight. Police also found another malnourished puppy locked in that garage.
"What was done to these dogs is inexcusable," Dart said. "This was done in the name of gambling and greed and no area seems to be immune from its influence - we see it in rural farm areas and inner cities. Unfortunately, we're also seeing more and more kids exposed to this kind of lifestyle."
Earlier this year, Dart championed a new state law which requires cross-reporting between the Department of Children and Family Services and any animal investigators. It mandates that DCFS investigators alert authorities to suspected animal abuse and that animal investigators notify DCFS of any suspected child abuse or endangerment.
In the last 2 years, the sheriff's Animal Crimes Unit has partnered with the Chicago Police Department and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to break up numerous dogfighting operations in the city and suburbs.
The department has struggled to infiltrate dog fighting rings in the west and southwest suburbs, but that recently changed thanks to officers cultivating sources and informants in those areas. Those leads allowed officers to carry out these search warrants.
All dogs rescued in this raid are now at the Animal Welfare League in Chicago Ridge.
Anyone with information about dog fighting is urged to call the Cook County Sheriff’s Police at (708) 865-4720.