CHICAGO – A Chicago man has been charged with recording and posting videos online of his pit bull attacking and killing other animals, authorities said.
Richard Eames, 24, was charged Wednesday, a day after he was arrested in connection with reports that he filmed his dog eating small animals – including a cat and an opossum – and posted the graphic videos online, Chicago police said.
The city's Animal Care and Control unit took custody of the dog, which was described in videos as a pit bull and Jack Russell terrier mix, said police spokesman Frank Giancamilli.
The arrest follows an online petition posted in September that called on police to investigate the case. The petition had garnered more than 2,470 signatures by Wednesday afternoon.
"This individual has a YouTube channel devoted to many brutal deaths that innocent pets had to suffer," the petition said. "He is very proud of all these deaths and in one video he even writes that his dog kills anything that moves."
The woman who started the petition spoke to the Tribune on the condition of anonymity, citing safety concerns. She lives in California and was surfing the internet looking for cat videos in early 2017 when she came across something on YouTube called "Pitbull Jack Russel terrier mix VS Cat." She clicked the link, thinking it would show the two animals playing, and was horrified to see a dog ripping apart a cat. The woman said she found more videos of this nature posted by the same user.
She first emailed police about the videos in August 2017, according to emails she provided to the Tribune.
Police officers were in touch with her about the investigation starting in January, according to emails she provided.
According to an email Feb. 11, a sergeant in the gang investigations unit said he was working with the animal crimes team and conducting electronic surveillance of the subject.
Chicago police confirmed the investigation was opened after receiving a tip from the woman during the summer.
Asked why police took months to investigate allegations raised by the petition, Giancamilli said in an email that it takes time for detectives to "conduct a meticulous review of the facts in order to establish a motive, meet the burden of proof, and confer with prosecutors."
"This can often take several months and, in this case, culminated in the arrest of Mr. Eames," Giancamilli said.
Eames, of the 4700 block of West Van Buren Street in the West Garfield Park neighborhood, was charged with three misdemeanor counts of depiction of animal cruelty and a misdemeanor count of possession of an unsterilized or vicious dog by a felon, police said.
A Cook County Circuit Court judge on Wednesday set Eames' bond at $7,500, according to the Cook County sheriff's office. His next court date is May 16.
In July 2013, Eames entered a guilty plea to felony charges of robbery of a victim over 60 or with a physical disability and unlawful restraint, according to Cook County court records.
He was sentenced to probation, community service and 60 days in the Cook County Jail, records show.