By Carlos Sadovi and Kate Thayer - Tribune reporters: January 2, 2012
It was hot in Stanley Lee’s South Shore apartment Monday morning, 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.
The jogger, Joseph Finley, was in critical condition Monday night after undergoing surgery at Stroger Hospital, according to a hospital spokeswoman. Finley, who was 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.
By Monday night, police had taken a man into custody who was believed to be the dogs’ owner, but no charges had been filed. 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.
Cherie Travis, commissioner of Chicago animal care and control, 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.”
Fuck that curl up and protect your internal organs bull shit. Carry a fucking oozi and just shoot the mother fuckers DEAD!
Tribune reporter Mick Swasko contributed to this report.