McHenry Co -
“Two pit bulls who attacked a (leashed) puppy last year — also injuring [the puppy's two owners] who intervened — were spared a death sentence Thursday and were ordered to be returned to their owner.
McHenry County Judge Michael Caldwell called pit bull breeds "ticking time bombs" who are trained to fight and said he doesn't understand why people would want to own such dogs.
But the judge said authorities failed to provide "clear and convincing evidence" that Molly and Sawyer, the dogs who attacked a 6-month-old golden retriever Sept. 9 of last year, should be legally deemed vicious and euthanized.
The judge's ruling came despite a recommendation from McHenry County Animal Control that the dogs be put down. The animals were removed from the owner's home in McHenry following the attack.”
Illinois legal definition of a “Vicious dog”:
(510 ILCS 5/2.19b)
Sec. 2.19b. "Vicious dog" means a dog that, without justification, attacks a person and causes serious physical injury or death or any individual dog that has been found to be a "dangerous dog" upon 3 separate occasions.
(Source: P.A. 93-548, eff. 8-19-03.)
Despite 13 additional complaints or statements, the pit bulls had evidently never been declared dangerous and so the judge’s hands were tied.
Illinois legal definition of a “Dangerous dog”:
(510 ILCS 5/2.05a)
Sec. 2.05a. "Dangerous dog" means (i) any individual dog anywhere other than upon the property of the owner or custodian of the dog and unmuzzled, unleashed, or unattended by its owner or custodian that behaves in a manner that a reasonable person would believe poses a serious and unjustified imminent threat of serious physical injury or death to a person or a companion animal or (ii) a dog that, without justification, bites a person and does not cause serious physical injury.
(Source: P.A. 93-548, eff. 8-19-03; 94-639, eff. 8-22-05.)
Notice that the law is so poorly worded that menacing behavior by a dog toward a pet while unattended or loose can trigger a dangerous dog designation, but an actual bite or killing of a pet by a leashed or attended dog will not trigger a dangerous dog designation. There also is no mandate that animal control officers must declare animals dangerous when complaints are received. Often the victims must press animal control to act, and then AC may not even keep track of dogs deemed dangerous so subsequent attacks don't trigger harsher penalties or help relieve a neighborhood of a vicious dog (see related posts).
Amazingly, the Tribune reporting did not mention whether the pit bulls had been declared dangerous even this time. The report only mentions that LARA COLER’s lawyer says that it could not be determined which dog had bitten the Cuders, the owners of the golden retriever that was attacked, suggesting that their bite injuries might have been inflicted by their own golden retriever puppy as it was being attacked.
The pit bull owner LARA COLER, who has since gotten a third pit bull, will get the two maulers back.
Illinois residents must press for dangerous dog designations for each and every instance they feel threatened by loose or dangerous acting dogs. Remember, calling in to complain does not automatically generate a formal complaint. You must specifically demand that a complaint be written and that you get a copy of it and that the dog be declared dangerous. Depending on the county, you must file a complaint with police, animal control or both agencies.
Read below in related links about a woman who did go the extra mile after her dog was killed by a loose pit bull. Authorities were going to do nothing until she, herself, dug up the history of the dog finding that it had previously been declared dangerous.
Read below in related links how a county commissioner whose dog was attacked got the county law changed so that bites and attacks on pets also lead to dangerous and vicious dog designations.
Illinois Compiled Statutes
Sep 11, 2013 Owners of pit bull mauling victim Shibui want felony charge
Jan 30, 2013 Lake County defines "animal aggressive" as new category of dangerous dogs
Mar 2, 2008 Pit bull attacks on the rise, Ledy VanKavage thwarts all attempts to protect people and pets