Sunday, May 29, 2011

Two-year-old dog bite case may be decided this summer

By Tony Graf, Herald News

A pit bull is at the center of a 26-month-long legal case that could be decided this summer.
The dog got out of Bobby and Karen Warren’s Lockport yard through a gate in March 2009, Karen said. The pit bull, named Bear, ran loose with another family dog, Buddy, a mix.
The city has determined that the dog attacked a man in the neighborhood, said City Attorney Ron Caneva.
Karen disputes this point, saying, “They’re just assuming it was our dog because the dogs were out.”
The dog has been determined to be vicious, and a judge has ruled that the dog should be destroyed. The city and the Warrens have been in discussions to try to find an alternative.
Lockport resident John Chirico said he was walking west on Division Street on the afternoon of March 11, 2009, when he was attacked from behind by a dog.
On Saturday, Chirico looked at a picture of the Warrens’ dogs and said the pit bull was the one who attacked him. He also said the mix did not attack him, but was present at the scene.
Chirico, who still has a scar on his arm two years after the attack, believes the pit bull should be destroyed. He asks the question: What if a child or elderly person had been attacked, instead of a 42-year-old man?

Case history

After the March 2009 incident, the city issued a ticket charging that the dog was running at large, Caneva said.
The city also determined that the dog had attacked a man in the neighborhood, Caneva said.
That was the basis of an administrative hearing procedure, with Lockport City Administrator Tim Schloneger as hearing officer, Caneva said.
A hearing was held to determine if the dog was vicious, and Schloneger made the determination that it is, Caneva said.
Because of the ordinance violation ticket, the case went to Will County Circuit Court.
The Lockport ordinance also provides for a judge to determine if the dog is vicious, as defined in the ordinance. And if the court determines that the animal is vicious under that definition, it may order that the animal be removed from the city or destroyed, in order to protect the health, welfare, safety and property of the city’s inhabitants.
A judge determined that the dog is vicious and should be destroyed.
The defense argued that the state Animal Control Act has certain requirements which must be met prior to a dog being declared vicious, and that the city’s definition decreased that standard.
Caneva responded by citing a provision in the act: “Nor shall anything in this Act be construed to, in any manner, limit the power of any municipality or other political subdivision to further control and regulate dogs ... provided that no regulation or ordinance is specific to breed.”
The judge ruled that the Lockport ordinance was valid, and the case was continued to set a date for the destruction of the dog. The court ordered the Warrens to comply with the ordinance requirements regarding vicious dogs, such as requiring them to keep the dog in a certain type of enclosure.
On Saturday, Karen said the Warrens have complied with that order.
For the many months and court appearances that have followed, the city and the Warrens have sought several possible resolutions other than destruction of the dog — for instance, relocation of the dog. However, certain difficulties arose regarding each of the attempted solutions.
The case returned to court on Friday. The matter was continued until June 24.
The Warrens are being represented by attorney Joel Murphy, of Chuck Bretz & Associates in Joliet.

Advocate’s letter

Barbara Ann Dornan, an animal rescue volunteer, wrote a letter to The Herald-News, written from the perspective of the dog, Bear.
“My best friend Buddy and I were out in the yard when we saw the gate open just a little bit so we decided to go out and play in the neighborhood. Our owner discovered the gate opened and started to search for us,” the letter states.
The letter says Bear’s problem is that he cannot speak for himself, and because Bear was out with Buddy and a man was bitten the same day, Bear is being accused of the attack.

Victim’s perspective

Chirico said he wants the Warrens to “do the right thing” and have the dog destroyed.
Chirico said he tried to defend himself against the dog’s attack, but the dog knocked him down repeatedly. He said two people arrived to help him, the dog let him loose, and the two dogs ran away.
Chirico asks: What if the victim was a child or an elderly person, and couldn’t fight back as Chirico did? Or what if nobody was there to help?
That is why Chirico believes the dog should be destroyed -- for the safety of people who cannot defend themselves, or for whom help is not available.
On Saturday, Karen Warren continued to dispute the assertion that her family’s dog was involved in the attack. She maintains that her dog has been treated wrongly and should not be destroyed. She also reiterated that she has complied with the city’s and court’s orders.


  1. I learned of this yesterday. This dog deserved to be evaulated by a PROFESSIONAL trainer. There are two sides to every story. I feel for the man that got attacked, but who knows the real story. It is because it is a pitbull?? Hmmmm

  2. The pet owner must take care of their pets.  In legal cases, we must have the passence and wait for the decisions.

  3. I assume you mean "patience".  If you guys are going to spam comments to improve your website rankings, you should at least make it look like you have some intelligence. I'm not stupid enough to get busted for DUI, but if I was, I don't think I'd be stupid enough to call you.


I welcome your comments and questions.
Be advised that comments are moderated. Not for views, but for content.
Profanity, personal attacks, and spam within comments will result in your comment being rejected.
I, personally, love Pit Bulls as well as all dogs and most animals.
If your comment differs from my feelings or opinions, I will post it anyway, providing it does not include any of the three exceptions listed above.
Same goes for comments that are in harmony with my opinions.
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