After another dog attack, experts say how it can be avoided

By WEEK Reporter

June 20, 2014 Updated Jun 20, 2014 at 10:13 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- According to Peoria Police two pitbulls were on the loose and attacked a man in a Southside Peoria neighborhood Wednesday night. Experts say it is a situation that could easily be prevented.

It happened between the 2000 and 2100 block of Howett Street. Witnesses saw one of the dogs bite a man's hand--drawing blood.

Police say the injured man climbed on top of a car to escape the dogs' advances. When Police arrived on scene just before 5pm the dogs then charged at the officer. The officer responded with a single shot, injuring one of the dogs. The dog and the injured man survived.

Experts say roaming dogs could make for dangerous and unpredictable situations that should be easily preventable. They say not all dogs are dangerous--but accidents do happen--and dogs on the loose could put many people at risk. One witness says, with her little cousins, she's no longer taking chances.

"We walk up and down the street and my cousins are out here playing, but the way that dog attacked that guy and the way he was looking, the dog might come over on my property and attack them," said witness and neighbor Dre-Unna Meeks-Wesley.

Police say the incident happened when two dogs escaped from an open gate.

"The dog had bit the man walking," said Meeks-Wesley. "They were very vicious and were running back and forth."

And when they charged in the direction of responding officers. Police say the officer had no choice but to shoot.

"Nobody wants to shoot dogs, most people are dog lovers, but you can't necessarily reason with a dog, you're not going to outrun the dog. Plus you have other responsibilities we're dealing with," said Peoria Police Captain Mike Eddlemon.

Police say in that moment, their priority becomes protection.

"We're thinking about the safety of the neighborhood, the people that live there, the children of course," said Captain Eddlemon. "The dogs had charged at the police and had already injured a person."

However, experts say this situation should never happen in the first place.

"Whenever a dog bites or is in a situation like that it is always the owner's responsibility for not properly managing their pet regardless of the situation," said PAWS and Peoria County Animal Control and Protection Services representative Lauren Malmberg.

Malmberg says you cannot blame the dog.

"It's not necessarily the breed of the animal, or the age of the animal and even the sex of the animal--what's important is how we socialize them and manage them," said Malmberg.

The pitbull that was shot was treated and survived. Police do not know the condition of the man injured. PAWS says even today they have already responded to two similar situations. They say a potential solution is teaching your dogs to play nice with strangers.