Injured pit bull arouses suspicions of fight

Evan Hessel and Evan Hessel

One of two missing pit bulls found last week is believed to have been used for illegal dog-fighting in the west side of Evanston, authorities said.

Mystique, a pit bull puppy recovered Thursday by Evanston Animal Control, had wounds indicating that she had been forced to fight against other dogs. The other pit bull, Aaliyah, did not appear to be used in a fight.

The two 6-month-old female pit bulls were reported missing to Evanston Police Department last week.

The owners of the dogs told EPD that the pit bulls were stolen from their home on the 1700 block of Emerson Street between the evening of April 22 and the morning of April 23, said Sgt. Susan Trigourea of EPD. The owners could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.

On April 25, EPD received an anonymous tip that someone had seen a man pushing two pit bulls through a hole in the wall of an abandoned building at 1808 Brown Ave., she said.

Trigourea and Evanston Chief Animal Control Warden Bill Andrews reported to the site and found the dogs in the garage of the building. A baby crib and a few heavy objects blocked the hole in the wall, preventing the dogs from escaping.

“It was a lucky break that someone called, or else we might not have found them,” Trigourea said.

Mystique had several “fresh bites and small gashes” when the dogs were recovered, Andrews said. The fresh wounds on Mystique, a light brown pit bull, indicate that she was in a fight with another dog, he said.

Because Aaliyah had no wounds, Andrews and Trigourea concluded that Mystique was forced into a dog fight.

Trigourea said the capacity in which police thought Mystique was used was unclear. Dogs are often used as “bait” in order to train other dogs.

“They use (them) to build the confidence of the dog they want to use for the fight,” she said.

Dog fighting, the practice of making two or more dogs to fight each other for the purpose of gambling, is a popular underground pastime in Evanston, Andrews said.

Wounded dogs are often left at the Evanston Animal Shelter, 2310 Oakton St., after being forced to fight, he said.

“It makes me angry that people could do something so inhumane to animals,” Trigourea said.

EPD has investigated other dog thefts where the animals were believed to be stolen for dog fights, Trigourea said.

In one investigation, a set of pit bull puppies were found in abandoned building near the garage where Mystique and Aaliyah were found.

Observers often are afraid to report animal cruelty violations, but calls like the one EPD received last week are necessary to end local dog fights, Trigourea said.

“There’s someone in the community that’s there and knows what’s going on, and we need to know about it if people want this problem out of Evanston,” she said.