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Cops on drug search find mistreated dogs

One dogs found home 119 S. Briggs St. is seen Joliet Township Animal Control Joliet IL Thursday August 23

One of the dogs found at the home at 119 S. Briggs St. is seen at Joliet Township Animal Control in Joliet, IL on Thursday August 23, 2012. Narcotics officers conducted a search warrant there on Wednesday. They didn't find drugs, but found 15 mistreated pit bulls. | Matt Marton~Sun-Times Media

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Man arrested for dragging dogs, cops say

JOLIET — Before searching the house where the neglected pit bulls were found Wednesday, Officer Moises Avila had another encounter with unfortunate dogs.

Around 10:20 a.m., witnesses near Scott and Clinton streets called police after reportedly seeing William J. Heric, 51, violently dragging two female Chihuahuas down the sidewalk.

“I was in the area and was flagged down by several people pointing to Heric, who was walking with one dog and carrying a second in his arms,” Avila said.

“Jitterbug” was reportedly bleeding from her front paws, chin and mouth and her nails were “pulled back,” while “Darby” appeared unharmed. Avila said the injured animal was unable to stand on her own and began twitching and shaking.

An Animal Control officer said the dog had suffered brain trauma and neurological damage and would have to be euthanized.

Heric reportedly was walking the animals from near Cass and Briggs streets to a downtown bank and admitted “trying to keep the dog moving.” Heric also allegedly claimed he’d just been evicted from his residence at 310 White Ave., and planned to take the dogs to an animal shelter after stopping at the bank “so they wouldn’t have to be put down.”

“Darby” remains with Animal Control while Heric was booked into the county jail on a felony charge of aggravated cruelty to animals.

Brian Stanley

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Updated: September 25, 2012 10:49AM

JOLIET — Police found 15 mistreated dogs while searching a house for drugs Wednesday afternoon. One of the pit bull and pit bull mixes was already dead, and 10 others were euthanized.

“I like dogs. I have two myself and it’s shocking to see how someone can mistreat an animal like this,” Chief Mike Trafton said.

Trafton said an ongoing narcotics investigation led police to execute a search warrant at 3:22 p.m. at 119 S. Briggs St.

The target of the warrant was not at home, but two women, four children and a 69-year-old man were, reports said. Police also reportedly seized ammunition, drug packaging material and a digital scale.

“We encountered three pit bulls in the back yard that were pretty aggressive and were then told about a dead dog (in the yard) as well,” Officer Moises Avila said.

He and Animal Control officers estimate the dead animal had been there for “a couple of days.”

During the search, police found nine dogs being kept in cages stacked in the basement. One dog was found in the kitchen, one was tied to a deck and another was tied to a tree.

Many of the animals appeared underfed and have open sores, cuts and bites. One of them is pregnant, reports said.

Unfortunately, the animals were in such “bad shape,” after three Joliet Township Animal Control vehicles were used to transport them for an examination by a veterinarian, 10 of them had to be put down, said Sarah Gimbel, director of animal control.

One of them had a huge, bulging eye that could have been caused by a tight collar, she said. Most of the dogs couldn’t walk and had to be carried into the animal control building. Once the dogs were fed, many became sick, Gimbel said.

She said the dogs in the basement had sores from sitting in the crates, which were too small for the animals. The dogs also were in unsanitary conditions.

“Any type of urine and feces was just dropping through to the ones on the bottom,” she said.

The residents are reportedly renting the property.

Avila and an assistant Will County state’s attorney were scheduled to meet with a judge Thursday afternoon about obtaining a warrant on animal cruelty charges.

Gimbel said she is waiting for direction from police and the state’s attorney’s office before determining the fate of the four surviving dogs.

“I’m not really sure what the future will hold (for them),” she said.

On Thursday afternoon, Avila obtained a warrant charging Amber Norris, 21, with 11 counts of aggravated cruelty to animals. The warrant carries a $100,000 bond. Norris was being sought for arrest Thursday night.

“She claimed responsibilty for the animals when officers were there,” Avila said. Norris allegedly claimed to own several of the dogs while the dead one “was owned by a friend...she was just watching it.”

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