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Home > Press Page

Sunday, November 16, 2008 — For the first time ever, members of the Cook County Sheriff’s Department’s animal crimes unit broke up a dog fight in progress – leading to charges against more than 50 people, the Office of Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart announced Sunday.

Officers swept into the basement of a house at 526 W. 66th St. in Chicago late Saturday night and found dozens of people betting on a fight involving two pit bulls. Among those in the crowd were boys aged 13 and 15, as well as a pregnant woman.

Investigators estimate the dogs had been fighting for about 15 minutes when the fight was stopped. By that point, one dog was mauled so badly, it could barely stand and was cowering in the corner of a home-made fighting ring. The other dog continued to be so aggressive, it took two officers to harness the dog from continuing its attack.

Felony dog-fighting charges were filed Sunday against Donaver Jones, 38, of Riverdale, who allegedly admitted he organized Saturday night’s fight and owned the more aggressive dog. Jones was among dozens arrested two years ago in a massive dog-fighting operation in Livingston County.

Also facing felony dog-fighting charges as a result of Saturday’s raid are Melvin Trent, 37, and Timothy Norris, 35, both of Joliet. They admitted to owning the mangled dog involved in the fight.

Fifty other people face misdemeanor charges of attending a dog fight, all as a result of a month-long investigation by police.

“What we interrupted Saturday night was both disgusting and disturbing,” Dart said. “So many times, we hear about fights after the fact or find the discarded remains of a dog involved in one of these fights. It took great police work by our investigators, in conjunction with the Chicago Police Department, to break up this fight in progress.”

Police do not believe the severely injured dog will survive. After attempts to get the dog to stand failed, it was carried out of the basement on a stretcher. The other dog is being treated at a local shelter.

Police confiscated a tackle box filled with steroids, amphetamines, syringes and an IV drip, all of which were used to keep the dogs aggressive and alive. They also found a staple gun being used to close wounds on the injured dogs, as well as thick wooden stakes used to drive apart the dogs’ jaws after they’d locked down on another dog.

Police also confiscated three 9mm handguns, while also towing two cars which had dog cages and fighting manuals inside.

Before the fight, the dogs were hung from a scale attached to the basement ceiling. They were then matched up by weight and thrown into a homemade 10x10 fighting ring. The ring had a red carpeted base, which investigators say was picked to better disguise blood, and it was surrounded by three-foot high wooden boards. Those boards were smeared with blood and included gouges from both bites and scratches.

Since taking office in 2006, Dart has made it a priority to investigate dog fighting and to ensure that charges are filed against those involved. Last year, his officers conducted the singe-largest seizure of fighting dogs in Illinois history, when 37 dogs were rescued from a home in South Holland.

The two dogs seized Saturday night were specifically bred and trained for fighting. The average dog fight lasts about an hour, but can continue for up to two hours, investigators said. Police are noticing a growing trend of children attending these fights and the two children watching this fight were released to their parents.

“It’s heart-breaking to know that children are being exposed to such reckless disregard for life,” Dart said. “We must all work together to ensure greater protections are put into place and to send a strong message that dog fighting can not be tolerated.”

If anyone has information about dog fighting operations or those involved, anonymous calls can be made to the Cook County Sheriff’s Department at 708-865-4720.


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