Thursday, Winnebago County Sheriff's deputies discovered hundreds of birds being used for illegal cockfighting. Now Winnebago County Animal Services is now leading this animal brutality investigation.
It's one of the biggest cock fighting rings the State of Illinois and possibly the Midwest has seen in years. It's right in our backyard on Montague Road. Cockfighting is a nation wide problem and mainly is connected to the distribution of illegal drugs. While thousands of dollars may have been made during the cock fights in the past this is going to cost an already taxed Winnebago County Animal Services manpower and money.
Winnebago County Animal Services Director Gary Longanecker says, “In the morning it takes about 3 - 4 hours twice a day to feed the chickens. We’ve been having staff volunteer when their not at work to come out and feed the chickens."
Right now the property is being secured 24 hours a day seven days a week until animal services has found everything they need. Friday, the Winnebago County State's Attorney Office filed more charges against 40-year-old Gregory Konitski. He was already charged with domestic battery. Now seven more charges have been filed. Two are drug related to cannabis plants found at his home. The other five counts are for violating the Humane Care for Animals Act. More charges could be forthcoming.
Longanecker says, “I met with the State's Attorney and we are proceeding with the legal things that need to be done to determine the disposal or what we're going to do with all the chickens."
Longanecker says his staff has volunteered to take care of the more than 400 chickens that were found on the property. About 180 of those are chicks, the offspring of the fighting cocks. Longanecker says that's how it's going to have to be until the investigation is over and he could possibly reach out to the public for help.
Konitski's bond has been set at $100,000 dollars.