KANKAKEE — Donnell Jennings, a Pembroke Township man facing animal cruelty charges, turned himself into authorities at the Kankakee County Courthouse Thursday.

The 58-year-old Jennings was indicted by a Kankakee County grand jury on Nov. 16 on 41 felony counts of dog fighting and 25 counts of misdemeanor violation of dog owner duties, according to the bill of indictment filed.

If convicted of the dog fighting charge, the sentence range is between two to five years in prison.

Jennings paid the required 10 percent of his $100,000 bond after he was processed at Jerome Combs Detention Center on Thursday. His next court date is Jan. 8.

According to the bill of indictment, Jennings already had been convicted of dog fighting charges on Oct. 30, 2013, in Cook County.

Kankakee County Animal Control impounded 40 dogs based upon vaccination and registration violations, according to director Julie Boudreau.

“These dogs were born, raised and maintained in a different manner (than is normal),” Boudreau said. Some of the dogs had to be euthanized.

In her 19 years with animal control, Boudreau said the case ranks in the top 10 for the magnitude of abuse and number of animals.

“These are the most severe charges in my 19 years for someone to be indicted,” she said.

Tow chains used

A concerned citizen contacted Kankakee County Animal Control on Oct. 25 about several mixed breed pit bulls in a wooded lot, Boudreau said.

Officers found eight dogs chained with heavy tow chains to box type shelters, some with fresh or scarred wounds.

Jennings arrived on scene and said he owned the dogs.

He took officers to his home where another 32 dogs, many chained in the same manner on the property, were discovered. Some puppies were located in a storage type building.

The tow chains were anchored in the ground by items such as vehicle axles and cinder blocks, which were buried 3 feet deep.

A device used to train dogs in fighting was found.

Based on the fact none of the dogs were registered or vaccinated, Boudreau said they were impounded.

The Kankakee County State’s Attorney’s office also has filed two petitions for forfeiture of property on the lots where the dogs were found. The next court date on that matter is Feb. 5.

Assistant state’s attorney’s Erika Hamer and Graeme Quinn prosecute animal cruelty cases.

Caring for the dogs

With 40 dogs impounded, housing them proved to be a challenge logistically.

“It’s a perfect example of the need for a bigger facility,” Boudreau said.

Already housing animals, Boudreau called on Kankakee Humane Foundation board member Kathy Fegan, who along with Foundation President David Cook, were able to secure emergency housing.

Since Oct. 25, other organizations and volunteers locally and outside the Kankakee area worked to care for and find permanent places for the dogs, Boudreau said.

“In a perfect world, we would like to find a home for every dog and cat. In this type of case, it is 10 times more difficult to identify a (permanent) place,” Boudreau said.

“They are not bred to sit next to your chair. If they get loose, it is a scary situation. You have to think of the public’s safety.”

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