Dog-attack victim rescued by local contract worker

By Beau Ebenezer

June 28, 2013 Updated Jun 28, 2013 at 10:11 PM CDT

PEORIA Ill -- Thursday afternoon was a typical day for contract worker, Terry Burnside and his son as they finished up a led removal project on West Smith Street in Peoria.

That was until he and surrounding neighbors heard the sharp shrieks coming from across the street.

"The girl was screaming when she got bit, and from the window you could see that she was getting bit," said witness of the attack, Michelle Roman. "A bunch of neighbors from all around were coming to help her."

"We heard some dogs growling, and we thought some dogs were fighting," said good Samaritan, Terry Burnside Sr. "Then we just happened to look around, and we saw this dog had this little girl on the ground biting her and just chewing her away. We both jumped off the ladder to assist the girl. We ran over and used our hammers and hands to pull the dog off the girl."

The 10-year-old girl, whose name has not been released, was playing on South DuSable Street when a Shar Pei mix canine mauled her to the ground, biting her several times on her face.

Some neighbors said the dog was tied up in the back yard before the incident occurred and somehow broke loose.

However, others said the dog was known to run the neighborhood freely.

Authorities said Rita Washington of 1507 West Smith Street was arrested for obstruction of an officer after she took the dog into her home and lied about it's whereabouts.

This attack comes right before Peoria County's proposal of new vicious and dangerous dog ordinances that would put more stress on owners of a dog.

"It's people not taking the time and effort to make sure that their pets cannot do this kind of damage to a person," said animal shelter director, Lauren Malmberg. "Hopefully with our new ordinances coming in July, we'll be taking one big step in preventing additional tragedies."

Washington received two citations from the Peoria County Animal Protection Services, one for failure to vaccinate and register the dog and another for allowing the animal to run at large and create a nuisance.

As for the local contract worker who possibly saved the girl's life, he said he was just acting on impulse.

"It wasn't about saving anyone's life," said Burnside. "I would have saved an adult or child. She was just laying their in the fetal position, not defending herself. She couldn't defend herself. The dog was all over her. I just tried to help."

Washington was released Friday afternoon, and she will be in court late July to face her charge of obstructing an officer.

The dog is being quarantined at Peoria County's animal shelter.

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