Animal Fighting Case Study: Craig Boyd

With the exception of Craig Boyd, the names in this article have been changed.

The case of dogfighter Craig Boyd illustrates how failing to prosecute operators aggressively, issuing lenient sentences for the convicted, and completely ignoring accessories to the crime impede efforts to stop animal fighting and all its cruelty. Craig Boyd acquired dogs, kept them in horrendous conditions and trained them for fighting. He had at least two accomplices, Ms. A and Ms. B, who knowingly conspired to supply him with dogs through their bogus breed rescue operation.

The Craig Boyd case illustrates many attributes common to the dozens of dogfighting cases the Animal Legal Defense Fund has seen over the years:

  • Dogs were abused and neglected in the process of fight training.
  • Dogs died – either they were killed in fights, or they were executed as poor performers.
  • The justice system did not treat the suspect as a serious criminal, although he was a repeat offender for dogfighting, until he committed drug and weapons offenses along with dogfighting. 
  • Federal authorities never investigated violations of the federal dogfighting law.

To read about legal issues involved with animal fighting, see ALDF’s Animal Fighting Fact Sheet.

June 6, 2000
Chicago sanitation workers discovered the bodies of three dead dogs in trash cans outside Craig Boyd’s home.

June 13, 2000
Sanitation workers found two more dead dogs at the same location. 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 dog fighting injuries.

March 1, 2001
The following story illustrates the depths to which Ms. A was willing to go to acquire dogs for Boyd’s training operation. The Smith family had raised their dog Jake for over a year, but he exhibited overprotective tendencies. They cared for him dearly, so they wanted to find him a good home where he could get the attention and training he needed. Their friend, Mr. Jones, said he had found a good home through Pit Bull Breed Rescue (PBBR) for his dog, Angel, when she started showing aggressive tendencies. The Smiths contacted Ms. A with PBBR who said her trainer friend Craig Boyd was an expert in training aggression out of dogs. She said Boyd was interested in Jake, and that he already had Jake’s mother, Angel.

March 6, 2001
Craig Boyd convinced the Smiths to meet at Ms. A’s house instead of his own house, since it was closer to them. At the meeting, he assured the Smiths that Jake 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.

April 2001
Boyd signed a confession for animal cruelty regarding the raid in June 2000. Illinois anti-cruelty statute 510 ILCS 70/3.01 provides that “no person or owner may beat, cruelly treat, torment, starve, overwork, or otherwise abuse any animal.”

April 24, 2001
Later that month, AACT arrested Boyd again for cruelty to animals. They seized 10 dogs, many scarred and malnourished. Four of the dogs had been supplied to him by Ms. A.

June 12, 2001
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 Jake and Angel who had arrived there in a malnourished state from the April 24 raid on Boyd’s residence. Their beloved Jake 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.”

June 2001
Ms. A was banned from acquiring dogs from the CACC shelter because she supplied dogs to Boyd.

March 14, 2002
Boyd pled guilty to misdemeanor cruelty to animals for the June 2000 raid and was given the paltry sentence of 6 months probation. He was not convicted for the April 2001 arrest. With little to dissuade him, Boyd apparently saw no reason to shut down his grisly business.

August 14, 2002
With the help of Ms. A, Boyd went to Bermuda to select American Bulldogs for transport to the U.S. from the local SPCA. Ms. B, an associate of Ms. A at the bogus rescue, was the transport coordinator. At the time, Boyd was on probation for animal cruelty, which included a condition that he was not to acquire new dogs. To ALDF’s knowledge, authorities never investigated his probation violation.

December 23, 2004
In another raid, Chicago Police arrested Boyd at his residence. They seized 10 dogs (including one puppy), 4 guns, crack cocaine and cannabis.

January 10, 2005
The dogs were ordered forfeited by Judge Willie Wright.

January 21, 2005
Boyd was indicted on 13 felony counts: 9 for dogfighting and 4 for drugs and weapons violations. Illinois law 720 ILCS 5/26-5(a) prohibits the promotion of dogfighting as well as owning, breeding, or training dogs for such use.  

June 15, 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.

And what about Boyd’s accessories? To ALDF’s knowledge, state law enforcement never investigated Ms. A or Ms. B for supplying fighting dogs and “bait” dogs to Boyd, although Illinois law 720 ILCS 5/26-5(c) states “No person may sell or offer for sale, ship, transport, or otherwise move, or deliver or receive any dog which he or she knows has been captured, bred, or trained, or will be used, to fight …” Their insidious breed rescue organization continues to operate.

Although Boyd and his accomplices acquired dogs from out of state, federal authorities never investigated this violation of federal law. Since the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) was signed into law in 1976, it has outlawed the interstate or foreign transport of animals used in fighting ventures, yet federal agents have rarely charged anyone with violating this law. However, with the passage of the Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act of 2007, which increased the penalties for violations of the AWA related to animal fighting ventures, federal prosecutions may become more common.

Last revised February 2009

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