Dolton, Illinois — Cook County blues turned into freedom for ten fighting dogs.
According to the South Suburban Humane Society where 7 of the 10 were sent, “Several of us have been brought to our knees with sobs and tears as we have interacted with them today. All of them are people friendly. In fact, 6 of the 7 are so incredibly people friendly that it was hard to examine them as they just kept wiggling their butts and licking our faces. The 7th is friendly as well but more scared than the others”. The dogs were all pit bulls and showed signs of abuse. All seven show signs of scarring from fighting and two of the dogs have been extremely neglected. One may also lose an eye. Veterinarians are assessing all dogs.
Cook county Sheriffs office spokesman Frank Bilecki stated “They called us right away, knowing we handle this stuff all the time”. A call from a concerned resident led police to an industrial park where a makeshift ring had been built. When police arrived there was an ongoing fight in the ring. Of the eight now facing charges, two were captured trying to flee and the other 6 found hiding in the rafters.
These 10 dogs started life as warm little balls of puppy breath full of playfulness and wagging tails. Then their training began. Small cramped cages or large heavy chains with weights attached to build upper body strength. To increase aggressiveness they are often beaten and antagonized. They are tied close to each other and teased. Often they are given steroids or small amounts of gun powder which increases volatility.
What it takes to ready a dog for fighting is brutally harsh treatment. The result is a life, sometimes very short, of pain and misery. It can take up to two years to train the dog and usually there is a test fight at about 15 months. If the dog fails to measure up, they are often used to train other “established” fighting dogs knowing the new fighter will die in the ring or be injured and then killed by the owner. Remember the remains found on Michael Vicks property?
Before a fight begins the opposing owners washes the others dog. This is to insure there are no slick substances, foul tastes or poison. The dogs are held to a “scratch line”, the equivalent to fighters corner. The referee then signals the fight to commence. If a dog turns away or hesitates to fight a pause is called and the dogs are brought back to the scratch line. A fight can be paused for a number of reasons such as allowing the dog owner to pull a punctured lip off of a tooth so the dog can be more effective when biting. These fights can go on for hours and to the victors do not belong the spoils.
They are returned bloody to small cages with possibly a shot of antibiotics or a gaping wound stapled shut. The losers are treated with the same mindset as they were trained and raised with which include drowning, electrocution, hanging, shooting, burning or beating a dog against the ground. If they do survive a fight, dogs are often maimed or die from blood loss, dehydration or infection.
All the dogs will be evaluated by professionals and tough decisions will be made. Some, hopefully most, will be able to go to loving homes. Of the ten dogs reported found at the scene 3 have not been accounted for and so the presumption is that they did not survive. But even of those that pass the muster to be around people, few will be able to co-exist with other dogs. They have been pressured and trained to hate and fear other dogs. This is an epidemic that law enforcement seldom has the time and resources to properly deal with. What this means is that it is up to us to pressure for new legislation, tougher laws, and community involvement in order to deter and eventually eliminate this brutal practice.
Written by Robert Sipes.