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Chicago jogger critically injured by pit bulls: ‘They wouldn’t let the man go’

Carlos Sadovi and Kate Thayer, Chicago Tribune –

A 62-year-old man was critically injured this morning after he was attacked by what police described as two adult pit bull terriers while jogging along the lakefront in the South Shore neighborhood.

“They just wouldn’t let the man go,” said Stanley Lee, 35, who came to the victim’s aid, trying to beat the dogs off with a baseball bat. The dogs didn’t cease their attack until police shot them, he said.

The attack happened about 6 a.m. along a path in Rainbow Beach Park, 7715 S. South Shore Dr., police said.

The man was bitten by the two dogs over his entire body, including his legs, arms and face, police said.

When officers arrived, they were confronted by the chocolate brown and white spotted dogs who attempted to attack them. The officers then drew their weapons and fatally shot the animals, police said.

The man was taken to John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County, where he was listed in critical condition, police said. The man, who the Tribune is not naming, underwent surgery this afternoon, officials said.

The animals had collars but did not have any tags, police said. As of late this afternoon, police had not been able to locate the owner of the dogs.

Lee said he heard screams for help, then ran from his apartment building in the 7500 block of South Shore Drive to come to the aid of the jogger.

Armed with a baseball bat, Lee said he tried to chase the dogs from the victim, hitting them repeatedly.

“It’s like a crime scene,” Lee said, pointing to the bloodied grass where the attack occurred and still visibly shaken more than three hours later. A pair of running shoes and ankle weights remained nearby.

The man’s injuries appeared very serious, he said. “I think he might lose his leg.”

Darlene Henderson, out walking her two small dogs this morning, said off-leash dogs are a problem in Rainbow Beach Park. Henderson lives nearby and walks in the park twice a day — with Mace.

Henderson’s own cocker spaniel mix, Keefer, was attacked two years ago in the park by a Rottweiller but survived after surgery.

Despite reports to animal control, “nothing ever happens,” she said.

Henderson also once saw a pit bull tear a child’s coat off, though the child wasn’t harmed, she said.

“I don’t know what it is with the pit bulls,” she added, saying there are many in the neighborhood.

TeResa Gaddis, walking her two German shepherd mixes, saw one of the dead dogs lying near the path just before animal control officials cleared the scene.

“It’s a shame all the way around,” she said. “It just broke my heart to see them laying there.”

Cherie Travis, commissioner of Chicago Animal Care and Control, said the two dogs were adult male dogs that were not neutered and weighed about 70 pounds each. She confirmed that the dogs were pit bulls and were large even for the breed.

She said the dogs had two-inch nylon black collars that appeared new, which led her to believe they may have belonged to someone and may have possibly escaped from a neighborhood backyard.

The dogs did not have a microchip embedded under their skin that could help officials track down their owners, she said.

“To have two stray dogs wearing matching collars would not be consistent,” she said. “The likelihood is these dogs are owned by a person who obviously had both of them.”

She said animal control veterinarians are planning to perform a necropsy on the carcasses. Public health officials will have to have the remains tested for rabies, said Travis.

Travis said animal control officials receive about 70,000 calls yearly asking for their assistance with dogs and other animals. She said she could not say if calls from the area outnumber other neighborhoods. She said she could not say if calls for pit bulls outnumber other dogs.

She said the way owners treat dogs are the main factor for dog attacks, not the breeds. She said pit bulls are popular dogs in the Chicago area as people get them for family pets, security and unfortunately for fighting.

“The problem with the breed is not that they are bad dogs, the problem with the breed is people get them and don’t socialize them and don’t take them for training and they’re strong dogs,” she said. “The reality is we need to hold people responsible that if you get a dog, you are responsible for everything that happens.”

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