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Wednesday, February 11, 2009 — Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart and members of the Sheriff’s Animal Crimes Unit have been honored by the Humane Society of the United States for their efforts to combat dog fighting and other crimes against animals throughout the City of Chicago and suburban Cook County.

     Sheriff Dart, along with Officer Larry Draus and Officer Tyra Brown, were presented the “Humane Chicago Award 2009” during “Spotlight Humane Chicago,” an event sponsored by the Humane Society on Feb. 7 in downtown Chicago.

     The award, presented to the Sheriff and officers by Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, honored the three for their “aggressive and innovative program to crack down on dog fighting in Chicagoland.”

     In July, 2007, Sheriff Dart created the Animal Crimes Unit in response to the growing issue of dog fighting in the Cook County area. Officer Draus and Officer Brown are assigned full time to this unit. The first case handled by the unit resulted in the seizure of 37 dogs, mostly pit bulls from a home in South Holland. At the time, it was the largest seizure of fighting dogs in the State of Illinois and the fourth largest in the nation.

     And in November, 2008, the unit broke up an in-progress dog fight in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood, arrested 53 people and rescued two pit bulls.

     To date, the unit has taken more than 600 animals, mostly pit bulls, into protective custody and arrested 75 people on charges ranging from dog fighting, to cruel treatment of animals to unlawful possession of fighting dogs by a felon.

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