Ventured into south-side Chicago and west of the city to Austin for my doc which was nominated for a Foreign Press Award and picked up a runner up prize, about the ex-dog fighters who were trying to stop kids following in their footsteps, amidst the violent backdrop of everyday life.
Jigga the Dog
I went to South Side Chicago for the second time in my life, the first time was a year earlier when I was running the BBC World Service’s citizen journalism project and I met the most inspiring woman I’ve ever met. Her name is Jean Hill; an ex-teacher and grandmother, she runs a project helping kids in her neighbourhood, called ‘Imagine Englewood If’, a place for kids to do homework and learn new skills whilst at the same time running a gardening project and campaigning about really important stuff like lead poisoning.
So I get a cab to the place where the guys are training some dangerous dogs. I’m meeting the dog trainer, Jeff Jenkins who has given me some advice – to stand back and stay calm. I’ve admitted to him that I don’t like dogs at the best of times and these ones have got some serious anti social behaviour issues. One guy comes with this huge black dog barking, aggressive, pulling at the leash. I reach over with my microphone trying to ask the guy holding him back some questions – does the dog get into fights? ‘yeah when he was a puppy he got into fights and now people come up to me on the street asking me if I want to fight him’.
It’s a world where dog fighting is connected to a lifestyle involving gangs, drugs and prostitution says a youth offender who has been enrolled into animal welfare classes as a condition of his custodial sentence. When people are getting shot and killed on their front porches, where is the harm in dog fighting?
You can hear and download the programme in full here – Assignment, Chicago Dog Fighting.
Download the programme for free – Chicago Dog Fighting.
Look at more photos – View the Slideshow