May 06, 2015 Alsip Pit Bull Seriously Mauled Boy

Alsip - Notice that the headline on the original Tribune story was altered for this blog post to reflect appropriate and normal human values and priorities.  (Chicago Tribune's headline: Pit bull could be euthanized after mauling Alsip boy)

Also of note, there was no news coverage of this boy's extremely serious mauling.  The mauling did not become news until it was found that a pit bull might be found legally vicious and might be put down after attacking a dog and seriously mauling a boy.  That is considered important news - the pit bull's fate, not the fate of the child or the safety of the community.
10-year-old Matthew Dancho after he was seriously mauled
by a pit bull because he knocked on his friend's door

A reading of the Chicago Tribune's news story reveals how ridiculously difficult and rare it is to have a pit bull declared vicious in Illinois.

Illinois' dangerous and vicious dog laws were written by Ledy VanKavage, a lobbyist who is head of the Pit Bull Initiatives at Best Friends Animal Society, who has bragged that the law is purposefully written to make it difficult have a vicious dog declared vicious and safeguard the citizens of Illinois.  "Under Illinois law, it is very easy to get a dog declared dangerous. Not vicious. That's a much more involved procedure involving the court system."  Note that local officials must involve the State's Attorney with a full blown investigation and file a complaint in circuit court just to have a dog that has viciously attacked be declared vicious.  It is no surprise that some municipalities choose not to initiate this process even when they should do so.

The Law:
(510 ILCS 5/15) (from Ch. 8, par. 365)
    Sec. 15. (a) In order to have a dog deemed "vicious", the Administrator, Deputy Administrator, or law enforcement officer must give notice of the infraction that is the basis of the investigation to the owner, conduct a thorough investigation, interview any witnesses, including the owner, gather any existing medical records, veterinary medical records or behavioral evidence, and make a detailed report recommending a finding that the dog is a vicious dog and give the report to the States Attorney's Office and the owner. The Administrator, State's Attorney, Director or any citizen of the county in which the dog exists may file a complaint in the circuit court in the name of the People of the State of Illinois to deem a dog to be a vicious dog. Testimony of a certified applied behaviorist, a board certified veterinary behaviorist, or another recognized expert may be relevant to the court's determination of whether the dog's behavior was justified. The petitioner must prove the dog is a vicious dog by clear and convincing evidence. The Administrator shall determine where the animal shall be confined during the pendency of the case

Here is an excerpt from a 2006 article about the 2003 changes to Illinois law:
Lawmakers three years ago changed the standard of proof in vicious-dogcases from preponderance of evidence to clear and convincing evidence. The difference can be huge. “Preponderance” meant that the doggie cops needed to show it was more likely than not that a dog needed confinement — if 51 percent of the evidence is against a dog, it loses. “‘Clear and convincing’ is 70 percent,” Carey says. The folks who pick up the carcasses and impound the biters and sometimes wield the euthanizing needle say that they don’t have enough discretion or power. Largent and other animal-control officers are asking lawmakers to restore their authority to declare a dog vicious and order it confined. They say that it’s too difficult to get a dog declared vicious in Illinois. “If you look at the Animal Control Act, there’s an almost infinite number of excuses that could be conjured up by an owner to prevent a dog from being declared vicious,” Largent says.
Illinois Times, February 02 2006
 Read more:
Chicago Tribune
Illinois Times, February 02 2006

Related posts:
Jun 02, 2014 Tinley Park Family wants to save Pit Bull That Caused a Bloodbath at Vet Clinic
The Nature of the Beasts: Illinois pit bull bullies 
May 28, 2011 Two-year-old Dog Bite Case May Be Decided This Summer 
Sep 17, 2010 Board Declares Three Pit Bulls 'Dangerous, Vicious' Fines Owner 
Jul 11, 2010 Pit Bull Declared Vicious
Feb 22, 1912 Carrollton Bulldog Case Soon Tried 
Jan 09, 1910 Springfield Man Shoots His Mean Bulldog