LOCKPORT — A pit bull is at the center of a 26-month-long legal case that could be decided this summer.
The dog got out of Bobby and Karen Warren’s Lockport yard through a gate in March 2009, Karen said. The pit bull, named Bear, ran loose with another family dog, Buddy, a mix.
The city has determined that the dog attacked a man in the neighborhood, said City Attorney Ron Caneva.
Karen disputes this point, saying, “They’re just assuming it was our dog because the dogs were out.”
The dog has been determined to be vicious, and a judge has ruled that the dog should be destroyed. The city and the Warrens have been in discussions to try to find an alternative.
Lockport resident John Chirico said he was walking west on Division Street on the afternoon of March 11, 2009, when he was attacked from behind by a dog.
On Saturday, Chirico looked at a picture of the Warrens’ dogs and said the pit bull was the one who attacked him. He also said the mix did not attack him, but was present at the scene. Chirico, who still has a scar on his arm two years after the attack, believes the pit bull should be destroyed. He asks the question: What if a child or elderly person had been attacked, instead of a 42-year-old man?
After the March 2009 incident, the city issued a ticket charging that the dog was running at large, Caneva said. The city also determined that the dog had attacked a man in the neighborhood, Caneva said.
That was the basis of an administrative hearing procedure, with Lockport City Administrator Tim Schloneger as hearing officer, Caneva said. A hearing was held to determine if the dog was vicious, and Schloneger made the determination that it is, Caneva said.
Because of the ordinance violation ticket, the case went to Will County Circuit Court.
The Lockport ordinance also provides for a judge to determine if the dog is vicious, as defined in the ordinance. And if the court determines that the animal is vicious under that definition, it may order that the animal be removed from the city or destroyed, in order to protect the health, welfare, safety and property of the city’s inhabitants.
A judge determined that the dog is vicious and should be destroyed.
The defense argued that the state Animal Control Act has certain requirements which must be met prior to a dog being declared vicious, and that the city’s definition decreased that standard.
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