Lakefront jogger critically injured by pit bulls

A running shoe rests on the ground today next to to the body of a pit bull near a path at Rainbow Beach Park on Chicago's South Side. (José M. Osorio, Chicago Tribune / January 2, 2012)

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.