When Chicago Police animal crimes Sgt. Mark George reached out to pet a rescued terrier named Gizmo on Friday, the little dog flinched.
Gizmo was one of 10 dogs whose videotaped torture was posted on YouTube – prompting the arrests of a 13-year-old boy and a 22-year-old man, Joshua Moore, who lived with the boy’s family in the South Austin neighborhood on the West Side.
“One of the things that makes this case of such great concern is the age of the [teenage] perpetrator,” said Cherie Travis, executive director of the Chicago Commission on Animal Control and Care.
“There is a proven link between animal abuse and human violence,” Travis said. “Kids who go to school and shoot their classmates most often have killed animals.”
The 13-year-old and Moore were arrested Thursday and charged with animal torture and animal cruelty – felonies. Moore was ordered held in lieu of $150,000 bail Friday. The juvenile was released to his family and placed on electronic monitoring.
Cook County Judge Donald Panarese Jr. also approved a petition to remove the animals from the home in the 200 block of North Lockwood. Authorities said the five dogs and five puppies will be put up for adoption.
The allegations against Moore and the teenager generated headlines as far away as England.
They’re accused of putting duct tape on Gizmo’s testicles, ripping it off and applying alcohol to the dog’s genitalia.
They allegedly suspended a dog in a harness and spun it so fast it looked like a propeller, labeling the video “dog tornado.”
They separated newborn puppies from their mother and forced some dogs to eat their own feces, police said.
YouTube viewers were furious about the videos, in which Moore and the teenager identified themselves by their names – and some viewers threatened to kill them, police said.
The torture came to the attention of the police after a tipster contacted People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
On Sunday, PETA reported the cruelty to Fort Wayne, Ind., Animal Care and Control officials after learning Moore was from Chicago but living in Fort Wayne, said Daphna Nachminovitch, vice president of cruelty investigation for PETA.
On Tuesday, officers in Fort Wayne stopped Moore for questioning at a restaurant. “Because of his neck tattoo, it was easy to identify him,” Nachminovitch said.
Moore was read his rights, admitted he was in the videos and was released, police said. On Thursday, officers arrested Moore in Chicago after he stepped off a Greyhound bus from Indiana, Nachminovitch said.
According to Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney Erin Antonietti, Moore is seen torturing animals in five videos.
Moore told police “it was not a big deal” and “he was bored and was doing it for entertainment,” she said.
In one video, Moore is seen forcing lemon juice down a dog’s throat, Antonietti said. The video was labeled “lickety tongue,” police said.
Moore is also seen throwing a dog in the air twice, shaking the animal back and forth, then throwing it in the air again, Antonietti said.
The dogs were Chihuahuas, terriers and mixes of the two, police said.
Police said the videos were made in late January and early February. Nachminovitch said PETA saved a copy of the videos before they were removed from YouTube. PETA turned over the evidence to police, she said.
It’s not clear who took down the videos, but YouTube’s policy is to review those that are flagged as inappropriate and remove them if they show “bad stuff” like animal abuse.
Nachminovitch said PETA receives numerous tips about videotaped animal cruelty.
“We see a lot of graphic animal torture, but this was systemic and gleeful,” she said. “They took a lot of pleasure with the pain and terror they caused these animals.”
Police say they found items used in the torture during a search of the home on Lockwood, including a harness and a bottle of lemon juice.
“It’s cynical, bizarre and evil. … They have no remorse,” George said, calling it the worst abuse he’s seen in his more than three years with the Chicago Police animal crimes team, part of the gang investigations unit.
Moore doesn’t have any serious crimes in his background, George noted.
A man outside the 13-year-old suspect’s home on Lockwood declined to comment about the case Friday, shaking his head and saying, “he’s just a boy.”
Contributing: Sun-Times Media Wire