Jul 16, 2009 Wolfhounds Attack Again

Same pair of dogs blamed in rash of maulings last year

East Alton - A pair of Russian wolfhounds that attacked and killed at least four animals last year struck again Thursday, injuring two dogs and an owner.

The wolfhounds, which also are known as borzoi, escaped from their back yard in the 300 block of Washington Avenue about 10:30 a.m., attacked a man walking his dog and mauled a dog in its home.

Sgt. Brent Wells with the East Alton Police Department said a 911 call was received from a woman at 10:33 a.m., stating her son was being attacked by two large white dogs.

Kevin Bartles, 46, suffered 13 puncture wounds to his arms while trying to defend his small mixed-breed dog from being attacked by the threatening hounds as he neared his home in the 500 block of Monroe Street.

Wells said a second call came in at 10:34 a.m. from another woman who said two dogs came into her house and attacked her small dog.

Wells said the pair ran into a house in the 100 block of Lakeside Avenue and attacked a rat terrier. He said the dog suffered severe injuries. Its owner, Laura Ward, took the canine to a veterinarian.

Public Works Superintendent Denny Weber, who also is in charge of the village's animal control, received a call about the attacks and responded the scene, where he was able to take the dogs into custody.

"The dogs are now at Madison County Animal Control, where they will be quarantined for the next 10 days," Weber said.

Police Chief Dwynn Isringhausen said he was disturbed by the incident because this time the dogs attacked a person who got in the way of their "prey."

"The dogs were violent in the past, but they had never attacked a person before now," Isringhausen said.

Residents were extremely upset last year after the pair of canines went on a killing spree between April 14 and July 11. The dogs escaped their yard, hunted down and killed three small dogs and mauled a fourth.

Records show that the owners of the wolfhounds - Cody Butry and Christopher Hinkle - were sent a letter from Madison County Animal Control following the incidents stating that the courts had deemed the animals as dangerous.

According to Illinois' Animal Control Act, a "dangerous dog" is an individual dog that is unmuzzled, unleashed or unattended by its owner or custodian and behaves in a manner that a reasonable person would believe poses a serious or unjustified threat of physical injury or death to a person or companion animal.

The Borzoi Club of America Inc. states that the animal originated in Russia and was bred to chase and catch small game. Even though the dogs are kept as pets, they still have the instinct to hunt, and small animals are believed to trigger their response.

Because the dogs are considers "dangerous," Weber said they're required to be muzzled and on a leash whenever they are outdoors. He said the county again would seek to declare the dogs dangerous.

Typically, after a dog is declared dangerous three times, authorities will seek to have it deemed vicioius, would could result in the animal being euthanized.

Isringhausen said that after last year's incidents, he heard the owners reportedly had moved the dogs out of town, but he didn't know that for sure. Because there had been no reported attacks since then, he said he had assumed the dogs were gone.

Isringhausen said the owners were not home when the dogs got out on Thursday. He said his department would seek charges for two counts of criminal damage to property and would issue them a citation for a leash law violation.

He said he's most afraid if the dogs are brought back to East Alton that they could escape again and possibly attack a child who may be playing with a small dog.

"We don't want this to happen to anyone or their pet again," he said. "The village will do whatever is within its power to take care of it."

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