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Owner of pit bulls involved in Illinois dog attacks unlikely to face criminal charges

Author / Coordinator:  
Minnesota
November 2005

Two Cary, Illinois kids were mauled by pit bulls over the weekend, but authorities hinted the dogs' owner is unlikely to face criminal charges because of the dog attacks. Nick Foley was in critical condition yesterday, and his friend Jourdan Lamarre was in fair condition, according to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital officials.

The investigation is still in progress, but McHenry County officials said the dogs' owner, Scott Sword, 41, would likely be ticketed for allowing his three pit bulls to roam unleashed at worst. Carrying fines ranging from $20 to $200 per animal, it appears more serious charges will not be warranted, including reckless conduct, because the animals had not previously been involved in dog bites or attacks in their Illinois neighborhood.

Officials emphasized the dog attacks were not provoked by the two 10-year old kids. The dog attacks occurred when Nick and Jourdan walked to Sword's front door, which was a few inches ajar. Nick was accompanying Jourdan selling magazines and candy for Girl Scouts. After knocking on the door Sword began to open it, but one of the dogs burst through the opening, despite efforts to grab the animal.

Jourdan ran, but the dog chased her down. Nick, also panicked, ran across the yard and was attacked by the two remaining dogs. When Sword pulled the pit bull away from Jourdan, it then turned and attacked Nick. Four adults, including Sword, suffered dog bites trying to stop the animals.

The three pit bulls involved in the dog attacks were fatally shot by responding officers, and McHenry County State's Attorney Louis Bianchi said the dogs were not being raised or trained to fight other dogs. Neighbors described the dogs as friendly, and the dogs were registered and had their shots.

According to Matt Hanus, 32, a neighbor that kept the dogs from further attacking the kids by revving his truck engine, police shot the dogs from the bed of his truck almost an hour and a half after the dog attacks began. Investigators do not know why the dogs acted so aggressively.

McHenry County Board Chairman Ken Koehler said the county plans to participate in an Internet conference today to learn more about a new Illinois state law named after Anna Cieslewicz, a pediatric nurse who was killed by a stray dog in Dan Ryan Woods in 2003. Hosted by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the conference will explain key parts of the measure, including spaying and neutering of dogs.