Sep 25, 2012 Dekalb pit bull kills dog - woman seeks stronger laws for dogs that attack pets

DeKalb - "Lilly meant the world to Doris Sermovitz."

Lilly, a miniature schnauzer, helped Sernovitz lose 70 pounds.  Lilly gave her a reason to get up and go for walks which helped her lose weight.  Then, during one of their walks, a pit bull escaped from a yard and mauled Lilly who died in Sernovitz' arms.  Servovitz was bitten by the pit bull.

"She also has trouble sleeping at night. Sernovitz’s boyfriend used to place Lilly on her in bed, and she would hold her as she fell asleep. Now, she has nightmares about dog attacks."

The pit bull had attacked a husky previously.  The pit bull owner has been unusually compassionate.  He said he had the pit bull put down because he didn't want this to happen again and he said he realized that it would have been difficult for Sernovitz to see the pit bull remain in her neighborhood.  He also sent her a condolence card with his phone number.

Police chief Gene Lowery stated that owners can only be penalized if a dog in public maims or kills a person and that there is no recourse in Illinois code for dogs attacking other dogs. 

He is wrong.  The pit bull had previously attacked a husky, and could have been designated dangerous for that offense.  

Illinois law also states that the owner of a dog is liable for any injury caused by a dog.  And state law does not limit municipalities' power to enact ordinances to further control and regulate dogs.

Lowery states that he supports legislation that only takes effect after a person or pet is attacked rather than acting proactively to prevent further horrors described here.

DeKalb is a home rule municipality which means that if residents of Dekalb prefer to not have pit bulls in their community, they may regulate pit bulls by banning them or by mandating that owners be responsible by requiring any or all of the following:
1. One million dollar liability insurance policy on the pit bull
2. All pit bulls be spayed or neutered
3. Secure fencing that might include 6 ft privacy fence and 6 sided kennels with a top and a cement
4. mandatory muzzling

Many municipalities fear two issues related to breed specific legislation concerning pit bull.  The first problem they fear is pit bull identification.  However, over 600 municipalities across the US have breed specific legislation and have been successfully able to enact a procedure for identifying pit bulls.  These ordinances have occasionally been challenged in court, but have withstood those challenges.

The second concern is the cost associated with enforcing BSL.  Best Friends Animal Society has created a wildly inaccurate "calculator" to scare municipalities with unbelievably fantastic costs.  The BSL calculator has been proven to be bogus.

Recently, that BSL calculator calculated that it cost 3 million dollars a year to enforce the 28 year old pit bull ban in Miami-Dade county.  When asked about this, the head animal control officer said that their entire budget is less than 3 million dollars and that enforcing BSL only cost 2 to 3 percent of their entire budget.

That does not seem to high a price to pay to protect residents from the horror of pit bull maulings on people and on beloved pets.  We all can agree that Doris Semovitz lost more than a pet and more than a companion that day she lost Lilly.

Read more:

Comment after story:
Diane D., Sycamore, Il (dkd607) wrote on September 25, 2012 2:46 p.m. ...
My Sheltie and I were attacked last summer at the Sycamore cemetary by a pitbull. Thankfully with the help of many neighbors we survived. Fortunately the pitbull was put to sleep because that area has many children and other dogs and obviously the pitbull could not be trusted. I did not get compensated by the owner and that is wrong. If you own a dog, you take full responsibilty for that animal. No animal can be trusted and owners need to be liable for them. I am sorry Ms. Sernovitz for your loss, I know what you are going through.
file photos of the breeds attacked
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Aug 13, 2012 Family tries to recover after fatal attack on pet
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