By Bob Uphues
More than two weeks after an Australian cattle dog attacked and severely injured a 15-year-old North Riverside boy near First and Forest avenues, Riverside police have charged the man who was walking the dog with endangering the life of a child and the police chief has declared the dog "vicious."
Meanwhile, Police Chief Thomas Weitzel has declared two other dogs, a pair of pit bulls, "vicious" after they reportedly attacked and injured a woman and her dog inside a common area of a building on Park Place on Oct. 6.
In both cases the chief has ordered all three dogs to be kept in enclosures at all times unless they are muzzled. The dogs, according to the letters sent to their owners, are not allowed outside "except as necessary to obtain veterinary care or in order to comply with a court order" and must be secured with a leash that is no longer than three feet and has a tensile strength of 300 pounds.
The owners have 35 days to appeal the chief's ruling to Cook County Circuit Court. But the letter states that the owners must arrange for Weitzel to inspect the enclosure within five days of receiving the letters, which were hand delivered on Oct. 18. If the owners fail to arrange for the inspection, according to the letter, Weitzel will move to have the dogs impounded.
The incident involving a 55-pound Australian cattle dog took place on Oct. 1, and Weitzel said action was delayed in part because the victim was so severely injured. The boy was walking westbound on Forest Avenue and jogged into the parkway to avoid the dog when it lunged at him, locking his jaw onto the boy's groin.
The 55-year-old man walking the dog was finally able to pull the dog's jaws apart, reportedly leaving the boy, who attempted to walk home, bleeding profusely. The dog walker brought the dog home and then got in his car to search for the victim, reportedly asking if he wanted a ride home.
The boy reportedly asked the man to take him to a 7-Eleven near his home, which is where the dog walker dropped him off before leaving. At no time did the man call 911 to report the incident.
Police found out about the attack later that night from personnel at Loyola University Medical Center, where the victim's mother took him after he walked home. According to police, the boy had to undergo reconstructive surgery and was hospitalized for five days.
Weitzel said police were able to file charges against the dog walker after obtaining medical records and doing further interviews.
The dog's owner, a 51-year-old Riverside woman, was cited for having no dog license and for the dog not having a rabies vaccination. The dog was impounded for 10 days after the incident.
Police also reported that the same dog had been involved in a separate incident in October 2016 in which a man dropped the dog's leash and it lunged at a man in the hallway of a Riverside condominium building.
The victim was able to block the dog with his foot and there was no bite in that instance, but the incident was reported to police.
Woman, dog attacked inside building
The second incident, on the evening of Oct. 6, took place in the common area of a multi-unit on Park Place. It was reported to police on Oct. 15.
In that incident a 49-year-old woman was returning home from walking her dog, a Pyrenees mix, and entered the common area of her multi-unit building when two pit bulls ran from another unit and attacked her and her dog.
The ensuing scene was described by police as a "melee" with the woman unsure exactly which dog attacked her and her dog. A 49-year-old man accompanying the woman was able to stop the attack, but not before the woman sustained a serious injury to her right hand.
According to police, the tip of the woman's right index finger had to be surgically removed. The woman's left hand was also injured.
The woman's dog had to undergo surgery at a veterinary clinic to close wounds inflicted by at least one of the pit bulls, who had the Pyrenees by the throat.
Police cited the dogs' owner with allowing the animals to roam freely and another for having unlicensed dogs.
"We're currently working with the victim to ensure she fully recovers and gets all social services needed," Weitzel said in a press release. "I want to remind all dog owners that they are absolutely responsible for the actions of their pets."