The 57-year-old owner of the two pit bulls killed by Chicago police after they attacked a lakefront jogger on Monday has been ticketed for failing to restrain them and not having city dog licenses, authorities said.
Jimmy Johnson, of the 7600 block of South Coles Avenue, was ticketed twice for each dog, said Chicago Police News Affairs Officer Robert Perez. He is scheduled to appear for an adminstrative court hearing in March.
Johnson could face fines of $30 to $200 dollars for failing to license each dog, and $300 up to $10,000 dollar fines for failing to restrain each dog, according to Animal Care and Control officials.
Police attempted to get upgraded charges, but prosecutors believed there was not enough evidence to determine that the dog owner's actions were intentional, Perez said.
Cherie Travis, commissioner of Chicago Animal Care and Control, said the dogs' owner told her that someone had left the gate at his home open, allowing the dogs to escape.
“Somehow they got out of the yard,” said Travis.
She said the owners have not been cited for any dog-related violation at that address before.
“The owner and the owner’s family were extraordinary responsive,” said Travis. “They were hoping that the dogs were not theirs. …The fact that they came forward says a lot of about their character.”
Travis said Animal Care and Control has not received increased call volume for stray dogs from the South Shore neighborhood. Travis said she has reached out to Alderwoman Sandi Jackson to see if they can work together on tackling the issue.
Jackson said she wants to encourage “residents to call us to let us know when they see bands of dogs roaming about" or dogs exhibiting aggressive behavior.
“Oftentimes, they think someone else is going to do it,” Jackson said.
On Monday, only hours after he tried unsuccessfully to rescue the jogger, hitting the dogs repeatedly with a baseball bat, Stanley Lee described what happened.
It was hot in his South Shore apartment, Lee said, so he cracked open a window. That’s when he heard the screams for help.
Lee’s apartment overlooks Rainbow Beach Park along the lakefront, and through his window he witnessed a frightening scene: two pit bulls attacking a 62-year-old jogger.
“He was saying, ‘Help me, help me,’” Lee said. Grabbing a baseball bat, the 35-year-old Lee ran outside to try to chase the dogs away from the jogger. He said he hit the dogs repeatedly with the bat, to no avail.
“They just wouldn’t let the man go,” Lee said.
Arriving police officers were confronted by the dogs and fatally shot them, authorities said.
Jogger Finley, believed to live in the neighborhood, was bitten over his entire body, including his legs, arms and face, police said. Lee noted a deep wound to the man’s leg.
Minutes after an ambulance took Finley away, a pair of running shoes and ankle weights lay near the bloodied grass in the park at 7715 S. South Shore Drive. Bloody snow also remained on a path where one of the dogs was shot to death.
Meanwhile, residents near Rainbow Beach Park were wondering why two pit bulls had been in the park off-leash.
Darlene Henderson, who was out walking her two small dogs in the hours after the attack, said she often sees dogs unattended or off their leashes.
Despite reports to animal control officials, “nothing ever happens,” she said, adding that she now carries Mace during her twice-daily walks. Henderson’s own cocker spaniel mix, Keefer, was attacked two years ago in the park by a Rottweiler but survived after surgery.
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 said, referring to how many she sees living in the neighborhood, which has struggled with violent crime in recent years.
Adesoji Adeyinka, who also lives near the area of the attack, said he will rethink his weekend walks along the beach with his two young daughters.
“I won’t let them out there, even with me,” he said, adding that he has seen unleashed pit bulls in the area, but usually with owners standing nearby.
TeResa Gaddis also lives near Rainbow Beach Park. She saw one of the dead dogs as she walked her two German shepherd mixes Monday morning just before animal control officials cleared the scene.
“It’s a shame all the way around. It just broke my heart to see them lying there,” she said.
A statement released by Stroger from Finley's brother said the man's family was grateful for their actions. The hospital would not release the brother's name.
“We would like to thank everyone, we are grateful and appreciate the good Samaritans and the police who came out to rescue him,” according to the brother.
Earlier, Travis said the dogs did not have a microchip embedded under their skin or identification tags on their collars.
Travis described the dogs as unneutered adult males, which at 70 pounds were large even for their breed. Police said one dog was chocolate brown in color, and the other was white with dark spots. The dogs had matching two-inch nylon collars that appeared new.
She said animal control veterinarians planned to perform a necropsy on the bodies. Public health officials also test for rabies.
Though dog bites are common throughout the city, Travis said the most recent death she could recall was in January 2010, when a man was killed by his daughter’s pit bulls inside their home.
Monday’s incident bore similarities to a January 2003 incident when two female joggers were attacked — one fatally — by wandering dogs in the Dan Ryan Woods forest preserve. The incident sparked Cook County forest preserve officials to close the path until they were sure the responsible dogs had been destroyed. Officials also added bicycle patrols to the area and signs about reporting stray dogs.
Travis emphasized that a dog’s breed is not the leading cause of aggressiveness. Rather, it’s how owners treat and train their dogs.
“The problem with (pit bulls) 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.”
Joggers are especially susceptible to aggressive dogs, Travis said, because they’re in constant motion.
“The sad part is, joggers are interesting to dogs. A jogger is almost by definition appealing to a dog,” she said. “Our advice to anybody is if you’re out someplace (and a dog charges), you’re not going to outrun it so be as still as possible, don’t make eye contact and look down. If a dog is acting threatening, curl up into a ball and try to protect your internal organs.”
Tribune reporter Mick Swasko contributed to this report.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun