Torturing animals mostly goes unreported
Two recent cases of animal cruelty in Worth Township resultedin arrests, but far too often dogs and other animals are abused and the occurrences go unreported, animal advocates say.
Animal abuse occurs routinely, but typically goes unreported because few people call the police.
“A lot of people don’t want to get involved,” said Linda Estrada, director and president of the Animal Welfare League in Chicago Ridge.
Estrada has worked at the Animal Welfare League for 18 years and has seen every kind of animal abuse imaginable, she said.
In fact, approximately 20 percent of dogs housed at the Animal Welfare League are victims of abuse, she said.
Since Jan. 1, 2013, Cook County Sheriff officers have made approximately 25 arrests for violations ranging from pet owners’ negligence to aggravated animal cruelty.
The Animal Welfare League has eight veterinarians and 14 technicians to treat the 1,400 dogs and cats housed at the facility.
Estrada has seen many dogs that were beaten, starved or left outside in extreme temperatures treated and brought back to health at the Animal Welfare League clinic.
That was not case for the two dogs that were abused in late May in separate incidents at a Worth Township trailer park.
The first incident occurred May 26 when Andrew Plecki, 48, of the 11700 block of Ridgeland Avenue, allegedly shot his girlfriend’s 12-year-old chocolate Labrador in the head with an air rifle for unknown reasons, according to a Cook County Sheriff’s Police spokesman.
The dog, which was sick, was taken to Crestwood Animal Clinic, 5443 W. 135th St., where it was put down, according to the sheriff’s spokesman.
Plecki appeared in court the following day where bond was set at $40,000. He is expected to appear at Bridgeview Court on June 17.
Meanwhile, Christopher Krentkowski, 35, also of the 11700 block of Ridgeland Avenue, was charged with two counts of aggravated domestic battery and one count of aggravated animal cruelty after allegedly injuring his mother and killing her dog on May 31, sheriff’s police said.
Krentkowski allegedly dragged his mother’s 15-year-old dog out of a bedroom at 8:30 p.m. and began to kick it. When his 53-year-old mother told him to stop, he tried to strangle her and struck her head with a bookcase, injuring her, according to a sheriff’s investigation. Krentkowski continued to physically assault the dog, causing its death, police said.
Krentkowski received a $125,000 bail. He is scheduled to appear in court on June 26 at the Bridgeview Courthouse.
The circumstances surrounding Krentkowski’s case are not isolated, Estrada said.
Individuals who abuse animals often do so to extract revenge on someone, such as a family member.
“People get back at people by abusing the animal,” she said, adding that breakups, divorces and custody cases can involve the mistreatment of pets.
She added that those who abuse animals are likely to exploit humans as well.
“If they abuse animals, they are likely to abuse a family member, a girlfriend or a child,” she said. “It’s sad.”
Estrada added that people can easily report abuse without getting involved. She said that the existence of camera phones makes reporting abuse easier than ever.
“Use your cameras,” said Estrada, who added that photographic evidence of animal abuse is critical when building a case against an animal abuser.
She advises calling the police, who will rescue the animal and bring it to her facility.
That’s happening in Oak Lawn, where concerned residents have called the village’s animal control officer to report cases of mistreated dogs, said Oak Lawn Police Division Chief Roger Pawlowski.
“What we see is reports from concerned citizens,” Pawlowski said. “You get a call the neighbor or a passerby.”
Calls are followed up by the animal control officer, who talks with the dog owner about proper care for their pet, Pawlowski said. He added that village has experienced only a handful of cases of animal cruelty or circumstances that led police to remove the dog from a home.
“It’s not all that common,” he said.
Animal cruelty is nothing new, but the number of abandonments has risen in recent years, especially as the down economy has forced people to move, Estrada said.
Animal owners who no longer can afford a pet will leave them behind or desert them in alleys or dumpsters, she said.
People need to be aware of the signs of animal cruelty or abandonment, Estrada said.
“People need to open their eyes,” she said.
Specifically, they should be aware of dogs that appear malnourished or exhibit signs of mistreatment. Additionally, they should inform police of dogs that are left outside for long periods of time in extremely hot or cold weather or deprived food or water.
A dog barking from inside a garage or an empty house or apartment also can be a sign of mistreatment or abandonment, she said.
The Animal Welfare League, 10305 Southwest Highway, serves 53 towns in and is open for adoptions from noon to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday; 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. The clinic is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday. The facility can be reached at 708-636-8586.