Dog attack stirs up controversy

By Katherine Tellez

January 22, 2014 Updated Jan 22, 2014 at 11:50 AM CDT

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. -- A Bloomington Community is mourning the tragic loss of 4-year-old Kara Hartrich.

The young girl died last Friday, after being attacked by her family's three pit bulls.

Kara is the second child to die after a dog attack in the last year. In March of 2012, 7-year-old Ryan Maxwell of Galesburg died after being attacked by a pit bull in the backyard of a friend's home.

This latest incident has stirred up the controversy surrounding pit bulls once again and has many people saying pit bulls should not be pets.

Debbie Thompson was always hesitant to own a pit bull until she met Chance.

He has now been part of her family for more than two years. Thompson said he has never shown aggression.

"It's sad that people label pit bulls the way they do, because not all people are murderers," Thompson said. "Not all people break the law and we're not all labeled the same. It seems that pit bulls seem to get the bad rap out of the deal."

The director of the Peoria County Animal Control said every dog, no matter the breed, has natural instincts they want to respond to.

"Dogs are dogs and given the wrong circumstances at the wrong time, someone can be bitten. If there is a dog fight or if there are multiple dogs that have a pack mentality, once something is started it's really hard to stop it and people can get badly hurt," said Lauren Malmberg.

She said the best thing to do is supervise dogs at all times when children under the age of ten are around.

"Sometimes things can happen if they're not properly supervised," Malmberg said. "If a dog knocks a child down and they start screaming and crying, that can further elicit behavior from dogs even our family pets."

Malmberg also said any dog, especially those not spayed or neutered, has the potential to hurt someone.

According to State Farm Insurance, more than 4.7 million people each year are bitten by a dog. One in five victims requires medical attention.

Children make up more than 50 percent of dog bite victims. The National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates half of all children under the age of 12 have been bitten by a dog.

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