Cook County Sheriffâ€™s police have arrested three people allegedly involved in a dogfighting ring based at a home that also serves as a daycare facility in west suburban Maywood.
The sheriffâ€™s department Animal Crimes Unit 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 during a Tuesday raid, according to a release. Nine dogs were undergoing surgery and rehabilitation Wednesday.
The gruesome scene at three Maywood homes was made even more harrowing by the presence of a licensed daycare operation, Sheriff Tom Dart said in the release. Charges are pending against the three alleged ringleaders, one of whom is related to the daycare operator.
â€œKids were playing on a swing set just 10 feet away from a vicious fighting dog and blood-stained floors,â€ Dart said.
The daycare operator insisted she was not involved in dogfighting and maintained children were never near the dogs or fighting equipment.
When police arrived at the daycare home on the 2100 block of South Third Avenue, there were 10 children being watched. In a garage behind the house, police found a very aggressive pit bull, blood on the floor and bloodstains along the sides of a car. Also in the garage were syringes, medication, bite sticks and harnesses used in dogfights, the release said.
The chest of the dog was shredded from a recent fight and its penis was bitten almost completely off, the release said.
Investigators learned the dogs used in the operation were housed at nearby on the 2020 block of South Sixth Avenue, home to an ex-convict 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 cited Tuesday for being a felon in possession of an un-neutered or unspayed dog, according to the release.
In the garage at Andersonâ€™s home, police found an 18-month-old pit bull with three 4-week-old puppies. All were kept in a wire cage soaked in feces and urine, with no signs of food or water, the release said. All were severely emaciated and police believe the puppies were already being used in fights, possibly as â€œbait dogs.â€ One puppy had its left eye ripped out and had several puncture wounds to the 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, the release said.
As police searched the property, they noticed a large opening in a fence separating Andersonâ€™s yard from a neighborâ€™s. In the neighborâ€™s yard, police saw a badly injured pit bull tied to a logging chain. The dog had fresh fighting wounds, possibly from a fight this week, according to the release.
The owner of that house on the 2020 block of South Sixth Avenue consented to a search of his home. In a dilapidated garage, police found a treadmill that had been altered specifically to train dogs to fight. Police also found another malnourished puppy locked in that garage.
â€œWhat was done to these dogs is inexcusable,â€ Dart said. â€œThis 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, weâ€™re also seeing more and more kids exposed to this kind of lifestyle.â€
Earlier this year, Dart championed a state law that requires cross-reporting between the Department of Children and Family Services and animal investigators. It mandates DCFS investigators alert authorities to suspected animal abuse, and that animal investigators notify DCFS of suspected child abuse or endangerment, according to the release.
All dogs rescued in the raid were taken to the Animal Welfare League in Chicago Ridge.