In June 2000, sanitation workers found five dead dogs in trash cans outside Craig Boyd’s home. Witnesses complained of a foul odor from dead and live animals kept in the hot basement. Chicago Police Department’s Animal Abuse Control Team (AACT) raided the residence and found a basement area allegedly used for dogfight training. Six live dogs, including one puppy, were found in terrible conditions: tightly confined without room to move, without food or water, emaciated, and suffering from infected ears and multiple lacerations consistent with dogfighting injuries.
Following this raid, Boyd and an accessory tricked the Smith* family, who had raised their beloved dog Jake for over a year, into thinking that he was an expert in training aggressive dogs. Boyd convinced the Smiths to meet with him, and assured them that Jake, who had started showing aggressive tendencies, would be his “special” dog, living in his apartment and being a trained demonstration protection dog. The Smiths transferred ownership of Jake to Craig Boyd.
In April 2001, AACT arrested Boyd again for cruelty to animals. They seized 10 dogs, many scarred and malnourished. In March 2002, Boyd pled guilty to misdemeanor cruelty to animals for the June 2000 raid and was given the paltry sentence of 6 months probation.
Meanwhile, after several failed attempts to check on Jake’s progress, the Smiths found out about the charges against Boyd. They went to the Chicago Animal Care & Control (CACC) shelter, where they found their beloved Jake, who had arrived there in a malnourished state from the April 24 raid on Boyd’s residence. He had scars on his face and chest. The Smiths brought Jake back home and tried to rehabilitate him with a professional trainer in their home, but the damage the dog suffered at Boyd’s hands was too much. His temperament and behavior had become too aggressive. Mrs. Smith stated, “Eventually, we made a decision to put him down fearing that he would harm a child or another animal. I cried for months.”
Criminals convicted of organizing dogfights and cockfights are usually involved in other dangerous criminal activity, like drugs and gambling, in their communities, and they will often go on to abuse more animals in fighting rings following convictions. In August 2002, Boyd went to Bermuda with a bogus rescue organization to select American Bulldogs for transport to the U.S. from the local SPCA. At the time, Boyd was on probation for animal cruelty, which included a condition that he was not to acquire new dogs.
In another raid in December 2004, Chicago Police arrested Boyd at his residence. They seized 10 dogs (including one puppy), 4 guns, crack cocaine and cannabis. Boyd was indicted on 13 felony counts: 9 for dogfighting and 4 for drugs and weapons violations.
In June 2005, Boyd pleaded guilty to one count of cocaine possession, one weapons violation, and one count of dogfighting. He was sentenced to 4 years prison on each of the first two counts and 3 years for dogfighting. The sentences were concurrent, gave credit for time served (174 days) and included recommendations for boot camp. Boyd was paroled before the end of the year.
*Names have been changed to protect the victims.