Digital Access

Digital Access
Access from all your digital devices and receive breaking news and updates from around the area.

Print Edition

Print Edition
Subscribe now to the print edition of Suburban Life.

Text Alerts

Text Alerts
Get text messages on your mobile phone or PDA with news, weather and more from

Email Newsletters

Email Newsletters
Our My Suburban Life Daily Update will send you all of the news you need to keep up with the pace of news in DuPage and Cook County.
Local News

Dog fight ring survivor wants love

Secondhand Snoots works to provide homes for pets with disabilities.
Secondhand Snoots works to provide homes for pets with disabilities.

When Rooster, a pit bull boxer mastiff mix, rolls in the grass in a shameless ploy for belly rubs five minutes after meeting a stranger, the cruelty in his past isn’t so obvious, aside from his missing eye and slanted jaw.
Rooster, 3, is one of seven dogs rescued in December 2012 from a dog-fighting ring in Dolton, Ill., known as the infamous ‘Dolton 7.’ He’s living at Tracy’s Doggone Farm in Wadsworth, placed there by the Gurnee-based dog rescue Secondhand Snoots until he’s adopted.
Secondhand Snoots finds foster homes or boarding spaces in Lake County for homeless dogs with special needs. The rescue works with Winds Chant in Grayslake and Shagbark in Antioch for boarding.
Amy Darling, customer service manager at Shagbark, said the initial challenge of boarding Secondhand Snoots dogs is that “they come in a little scared and unsure, so we go to extra lengths to warm them up.”
Erica Brown, president of Secondhand Snoots, said Rooster is named after Rooster Cogburn, a gruff but lovable character with a missing eye from the John Wayne movies.
Brown, of unincorporated Gurnee, brought Rooster home for a couple days when he was between boarding, which was just enough time to learn to adore him.
“I love this dog,” she said, patting his back near the fenced fields of Tracy’s Doggone Farm in Wadsworth. “I don’t know if he was a fighter or a bait dog. When the rescue [South Suburban Humane Society] got him, the whole side of his face was bruised and he had a broken jaw. One of his eyes was so damaged that they had to remove it.”
Despite his violent past, Rooster has been completely rehabilitated and isn’t aggressive, Brown said.
“Dogs can come up to him and take toys right out of his mouth,” she said.
Secondhand Snoots took up Rooster’s case at the request of Jamie Buehrle, wife of Mark Buehrle, former White Sox pitcher.
“They are huge advocates of the bully breeds,” Brown said. “Jamie reached out to me because we work so much with dogs with special needs.”
Brown and Cheri Walter founded Secondhand Snoots in 2010 with the mission to save as many special needs or sick dogs for kill shelters as possible.
“It’s a harder population to work with due to financial constraints and lower adoption rates,” Brown said. “We take in deaf dogs, blind dogs, even epileptic dogs.”
The cute name comes from something Brown and a friend used to say – “That dog has a cute snoot [snout]” with Secondhand referencing that they are rescue dogs.
Tracy Taylor, whose farm hosts 30 dogs at a time, said Rooster is adored by the women who work there and gets plenty of walks and belly rubs while waiting for his forever home.
Brown said there’s a stigma that there’s something wrong with rescue dogs.
“Ninety-nine percent of the time, someone got rid of them because they moved or had a baby or they don’t match the couch,” she said, while feeding Rooster a cookie.
Some of the rescued Dolton 7 dogs have been adopted, and one was euthanized because it couldn’t be rehabilitated, Brown said.
“Dog fighting is a bigger problem than people realize,” she said.
Brown said there was a dog fighting ring busted in Lake County not long ago. In 2009, nine pit bull puppies were rescued from a dog-fighting ring in Round Lake Beach, she said.
“I think people [dog fight] because it’s a rush, a power thing. In general, dogs are disposable for many people, even though for many they’re members of the family. It leads to misconceptions that certain dogs are mean, aggressive or can just snap,” she said.
Dog-fighting rings often use pit bulls because “they’ll do anything for their owner,” she said. 
Brown hopes someone will adopt Rooster soon so that he has a safe place to recover during a much-needed surgery to correct his hip dysplasia. Secondhand Snoots will cover the cost of the surgery, she said. She recommends a home that has kids over the age of 10, because younger kids’ tremendous energy scares Rooster.
“He’s just a big goofy teddy bear,” she said.
“Look at him – he loves everybody with his entire body,” Brown said. “He wants to lay in your lap and kiss you. He’s a good dog and he deserves to know what life should be for a good dog.”
For information on adopting Rooster, call Brown at 847-791-3647. Visit Secondhand Snoots online at

Loading more