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February 6, 2009

Spotlight Humane Benefit Aids Anti-Dogfighting Efforts in Chicago

The HSUS to Hold Saturday Evening Gala at Hotel Sofitel

The Humane Society of the United States

CHICAGO — This Saturday evening, The Humane Society of the United States' efforts to stop dogfighting in the Windy City will get a boost at an upcoming benefit, Spotlight Humane: Chicago.

The evening will feature cocktails, dancing, and live and silent auctions that include autographed items by Brian Urlacher and Chicago pro sports teams, weekend getaways, a private strategy session with world poker champion Howard Lederer, and high-end jewelry and art.

Funds raised through ticket sales and the silent auction support The HSUS' End Dogfighting in Chicago program, which reaches youths in neighborhoods where this brutal activity takes place.

End Dogfighting in Chicago is designed to prevent tragedies like the death of 26-year-old Chicago resident Julius Birdine, who was shot to death after refusing to allow his pit bulls to be used for dogfighting. "Two men came to his house one day, and they were trying to kidnap the dogs," said his mother, Joyce Birdine. "He got his dogs to safety, and the men left. Then one of them came back and shot him in the back and in the head."

"Our program changes the way young people think about dogs, not as weapons but as loving and loyal friends," said Wayne Pacelle, HSUS president and CEO. "We couldn't operate programs such as End Dogfighting in Chicago without strong community support and participation. Spotlight Humane is an opportunity to showcase this important effort and to raise the funds we need to grow the program."

Dogfighting Background

  • The HSUS estimates that as many as 100,000 young people engage in street dogfighting. This is different from organized dogfighting circles with regard to dog breeding and training methods. However, both types of dogfighting share the basic tenets: Dogfighting involves two dogs, usually pit bulls, who fight until one or both can't continue. The dogs suffer serious injuries or death in the match. Often, the owner of the losing dog will shoot or abandon the injured dog to die slowly from injuries.
  • End Dogfighting in Chicago was launched in 2006 as a city-based pilot program to strike at the core of urban dogfighting. The program uses the proven preventive methods of youth anti-violence intervention, dog training classes, humane education, community outreach and law enforcement partnerships. Due to its success in Chicago, in October 2008 End Dogfighting became a multi-city campaign that was expanded to Charlotte, N.C., and Atlanta, Ga.
  • A three-year study by the Chicago Police Department showed that 65 percent of people charged with animal abuse crimes, including dogfighting, had also been charged with violent crimes against people.
  • Dogfighting B-roll and high-resolution images are available at video.hsus.org.

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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 30. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org. 

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