Neighborhood on alert for killer dog
WEST PEORIA —
Patient and determined, Diana Lingenfelter and friends keep searching for the killer of her beloved ball of fluff, Daisy Mae.
Before her eyes, the five-pound Yorkshire Terrier was fatally bitten and shaken by one of two pit bulls roaming loose in West Peoria on Sept. 26. Minutes earlier, a nearby jogger was attacked by the other pit bull.
The dogs' owner arrived to whisk them away before police responded. But Lingenfelter and others continue to cull the neighborhood for clues as to the owner and his dogs.
"They need to be held accountable," says Lingenfelter, 43. ". . . It could have been a child (attacked). Children were out there that day."
Lingenfelter lives at 809 N. Swords Ave. She has adult children but no grandkids. The other occupants at the address were Daisy Mae, 5; son, Peanut, 3; and a third Yorkie, Missy, 2.
"They're my babies," she says.
She pampers the pets, even going so far as to get them costumes for Oct. 31.
"We were gonna take a picture for Halloween: The Three Musketeers," she says. She pauses, then adds, "Well, that ain't gonna happen."
About 3:30 p.m. Sept. 26, Daisy Mae and Peanut indicated they needed to go out. She let them out the back door into her unfenced yard, as always. Peanut took care of business and returned inside. Daisy Mae, though, barked loudly and retreated to the house quickly.
Lingenfelter thought nothing of it, other than to believe the dog was acting finicky. So she told Daisy Mae, "Go out and go potty."
The dog obeyed and went out. Immediately, Lingenfelter realized what Daisy Mae had barked about. A black-and-white pit bull darted out from around the corner and clamped its jaws around Daisy Mae.
"It shook her like a dust mop," Lingenfelter says, weeping.
She grabbed a broom and swatted the pit bull. It violently shook Daisy Mae twice, then let go - likely because a neighbor's dog began barking.
Lingenfelter noticed another pit bull - brown and black, in a swirl known as brindle - in the yard, watching. Both dogs trotted off.
She scooped up Daisy Mae, called police and drove to the nearby Tri-County Animal Emergency Clinic. A veterinarian put the conscious dog in an oxygen tent, but the damage was intense, including five broken ribs and a punctured lung. Daisy Mae died about 8 p.m. that night.
The vet bill: more than $1,000.
"I don't care that these people have pit bulls," Lingenfelter says. "Don't get me wrong. I love all animals. But they have to keep them secure, behind fences."
Also attacked that day was Joe Hanks, 48, who lives down the block at 800 N. Swords Ave. He left home to go for a jog about 3 p.m. About 15 minutes later, he was running several blocks from Lingenfelter's home when he saw two pit bulls, one black-and-white and the other brindle - the same two that showed up at Lingenfelter's later.
This time, the dogs' roles were reversed. The black-and-white dog stood passively as the brindle pit bull went after Hanks.
"It was all I could to do keep him off me," Hanks says. "I was kicking and yelling and turning circles."
He made enough commotion to prompt the dog to cease. Then it and its companion dashed off.
"I got lucky," he says.
His adrenaline pumping, he decided to finish his run. Besides, he had no idea where the dogs were from or where they went. But as he neared home, he spotted a Peoria County sheriff's deputy talking to a neighbor near Lingenfelter's place. He told the deputy about the run-in with the pit bull.
Meanwhile, the other neighbor told the deputy that a middle-aged white man, driving a GMC sport-utility vehicle, had driven and called for the dogs; the black-and-white was named Charlotte. The neighbor did not know the man, and he could not get the license plate number.
Deputies have been on the lookout for the dogs, as have officers with Peoria County Animal Protection Services. Agency Director Lauren Malmberg says they have cross-referenced the dogs, which had tags, with registered dogs in and around West Peoria. No match.
"The dogs could have been from anywhere," she says.
This is the second fatal pit pull attack on a dog in West Peoria this year. In June, in the 2100 block of West Moss Avenue, the owner of a small mutt was walking the dog on a leash when a loose pit bull attacked and killed the pet. The pit bull was destroyed by the county.
For more than a week, Lingenfelter and friends have been quietly surveilling the neighborhood, looking for the pit bulls, along with the owner and car. They are eager to give solid leads to investigators.
The owner would be slapped with a county ordinance violation of letting a dog run loose; that's $125 per dog. Plus, Malmberg says she would deem the black-and-white dog "dangerous," in that it attacked another pet; that means another $50 fine, plus requiring the owner to microchip and spay or neuter the dog, plus muzzle it when in public.
But there was no crime committed: State criminal laws are silent on dog attacks. Lingenfelter can try civil court to cover the vet bill, but that could be an expensive effort.
Right now, all she has in mind is the horrible image of the vicious assault of Daisy Mae.
She starts to sniffle and tear up, then says, "It broke my heart, seeing it happen in front of me."
My heart goes out to the owner who lost her dog. Those dogs should not have been allowed to roam free like that and the fact that they attacked not only another dog but also a jogger is unacceptable. Yet another pit bull owner has marred the reputation of all pit bull type dogs. Whoever owns those dogs needs to step forward and do the right thing by paying their fines for being a negligent, irresponsible owner and paying for the dog’s veterinary bill. RIP Daisy Mae.
Last, I do not like the headline of this article. Sensationalism in all its glory; when I read the headline I am picturing a rabid dog with a chainsaw. No, not really but I am picturing a very scary dog killing men, women, and children alike, which did not happen here.