Man gets three years for running massive dogfighting operation
BY LAUREN FITZPATRICK Sun-Times Media firstname.lastname@example.org December 14, 2011 2:06PM
Updated: January 16, 2012 10:27AM
Dogs just want to be loved, a Cook County judge told a South Holland dogfighter, excoriating him for inflicting cruelty on the 37 dogs he was breeding to fight.
Then Judge Brian K. Flaherty sentenced Kevin Taylor to three years in prison, the maximum allowed in the giant dogfighting case that prompted the Cook County sheriff to create an animal crimes unit.
Flaherty found Taylor, 33, guilty Nov. 9 of 62 felony counts stemming from the seizure on Taylor’s sprawling property of the 37 dogs and a slew of equipment commonly used by dogfighting trainers. Officials at the time called it the largest seizure of animals in state history and the fourth-largest on record in the United States.
The judge said he didn’t believe Taylor’s testimony during his trial. And the weights, medicines, steroids and treadmills pulled out of Taylor’s barn were aimed at strengthening the dogs for fighting.
“Dogs just want to be loved,” the judge said. “To sit there and (do this) to dogs for your pleasure and the pleasure of others is reprehensible.”
Assistant State’s Attorney Brian Volkman asked for the maximum prison sentence, citing Taylor’s criminal history, which includes three felony convictions, and a ticket in Downstate Livingston County for attending a dogfight.
“The defendant knows what he did was illegal and he disregarded that,” Volkman said.
Taylor, wearing Cook County Jail scrubs to the hearing at the Markham courthouse, did not want to say anything to the judge. His family also declined to comment after the hearing.
His attorney, Chester Slaughter, argued for probation for Taylor, saying he bought the South Holland property after leaving a gang on Chicago’s West Side. Taylor wanted to start a kennel in his yard and large barn, Slaughter said, but had been denied permission to do so.
“He was trying to better himself, and I think he did better himself by moving to South Holland,” Slaughter told the judge. “Mr. Taylor has turned his life around.”
The 2007 raid on Taylor’s home, 15909 S. Cottage Grove Ave., prompted Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart to dedicate investigators to a new Cook County Sheriff’s Police Animal Crimes Unit.
Court watchers from the Dog Advisory Work Group — D.A.W.G. — who’d had a representative at all of Taylor’s hearings over the past 4-1/2 years, quietly packed the courtroom.
“It’s a strong message — that maximum sentences are going to be given for violent crimes against living beings,” said Cynthia Bathurst, the organization’s founder.
The case also prompted the creation of a program to get dogs involved in court cases confiscated, evaluated and possibly adopted as rapidly as possible, she said.
Bathurst said of the 37 dogs removed from Taylor’s home, 32 were adoptable, and only one still awaits a home. Five were too far aggressive and violent for rehabilitation and had to be euthanized, she said.