Family Spends Christmas Money Trying To Save Their Dog After Alleged Mauling

Family says their dog was allegedly attacked by neighbor's dog in their driveway. Dog owner cited by Oak Lawn police.

Bite wound on Pecenkas' dog's neck, after it was allegedly attacked by neighbor's dog.
Bite wound on Pecenkas' dog's neck, after it was allegedly attacked by neighbor's dog.

An Oak Lawn family is looking for answers after their small dog was allegedly attacked by a larger dog on their own driveway last month.

Elaine Pecenka said that her husband was bringing the family dog, Trixy, an 8-year-old, 15-pound Maltese, into the house when their next door neighbor’s shepherd mix jumped the fence and grabbed Trixy’s neck the afternoon of Nov. 24, confirmed by an Oak Lawn police report.

An hour or so before the alleged attack took place, Pecenka returned to her home in the 9700 block of Oak Park Avenue, when she encountered the neighbor’s dog standing on the fence, barking and growling at her as she carried groceries into the house.

“The dog barks and growls at us all the time,” Pecenka said. “Usually I tell her to get down but that day, the dog seemed to sense that I was afraid of her.”

Pecenka expressed her concerns about the neighbor’s dog to her husband, Jim, before leaving again to take her daughter to a doctor’s appointment.

While she was gone, Jim put Trixy on a leash and walked her into the front yard so she could relieve herself. He was unlocking the back door to bring her inside when he felt a tug on Trixy’s leash.

When he turned around to see what happened, the neighbor’s dog, Bella, had jumped the fence and grabbed Trixy’s neck, reports said.

Pecenka said her husband was aided by another family member from next door. Together, the two men kicked and punched the larger dog in an attempt to loosen the dog’s grip on Trixy. The worst part, Pecenka said, was that her 7-year-old son, Jack, witnessed the alleged attack.

“Trixy is my son’s best friend,” Pecenka said. “He was screaming and crying. He was trying to run out and help Trixy, but the other man screamed at him to stay inside.”

The other dog’s owner, seeing the attack, jumped over the fence and grabbed Bella, putting the larger dog into her own yard, reports said.

Noticing blood on Trixy’s coat, Jim observed a large gaping wound on her neck. Trixy was rushed to the 24/7 emergency vet clinic, Premiere Veterinary Group, in Crestwood.

Her husband called and told her what happened. She drove straight to the emergency vet clinic, where Trixy was already undergoing surgery to close the wound on her neck.

“”We got home at 5 a.m.,” Pecenka said. “She wouldn’t eat or drink for three days. We finally got Trixy to eat some pizza. We used it to hide her pain medications.”

The next morning, Pecenka’s husband filed a report with Oak Lawn Police, who spoke to Bella’s owner.

Police said that the owner confirmed Jim Pecenka’s version of events. The owner told police he had let the 45-pound Bella out of the house into the fenced backyard. He heard a commotion outside and witnessed the aftermath of the alleged attack, reports said.

When the officer asked the owner for the dog’s rabies and village tag, he could produce neither. Police said the owner produced paperwork showing that Bella was overdue for a rabies shot.

The owner was issued citations for no village tag and dog running at large. He was also issued a bite card and informed of the observation procedure. The matter was referred to the animal control officer.

“When we filed the [police] report we were told the owner had 24 hours to take the dog to a vet and check her for vaccinations,” Pecenka said. “From there, they would quarantine the dog and give a temperament test.”

Pecenka says she hasn’t gotten any answers from Oak Lawn police whether the other dog owner has complied with the observation procedure. Until Patch acquired the police report this week, Pecenka was unaware that the owner had even been cited.

Pecenka said that the dog is still next door. When she saw Bella in the backyard leaving for work on Monday, she went again to speak to police.

“[The animal control officer] said it was now up to Cook County, but it was hard to get a dog deemed dangerous,” Pecenka said. “He wanted to help me and asked me to send him pictures of Trixy. My dog could have already passed and they wouldn’t have known.”

Cook County has numerous “vicious and dangerous dog” ordinances on the books, including investigation procedures for deeming a dog dangerous. Not mentioned in the county ordinances are attacks on other dogs.

Meanwhile, the Pecenkas still have to share a driveway with their neighbors. It has been touch and go for Trixy, who requires daily trips to the vet  to have the soft cast on her neck changed. Pecenka says they have spent over $1,000 on veterinary bills.

“My husband and I aren’t wealthy people. We’ve spent all of our Christmas money,” Pecenka says. “My older daughters don’t care about Christmas. We’re worried about Jack. He wants us to save Trixy.”

ChiCubs1 December 12, 2013 at 11:05 AM
That is a crazy story. As a German Shepherd Owner - I assume Shepherds will be the new "dangerous dog in the news". Bella seemed to be a puppy at 45 pounds, did anyone take that into consideration? Was the little Maltese dog antagonizing the Shepherd to make her want to leap the fence and go after the little dog? Something doesn't seem right with this story. My German Shepherd is the sweetest dog but if a dog antagonizes him, of course he's going to growl and react. People do the same thing when they are antagonized. Yes, it a crappy situation for the family who's Maltese got injured but maybe they should keep a better watch on their dog. Dogs have instincts so there was a reason why the Shepherd reacted the way that she did. My Shepherd has instincts and doesn't like one of my neighbors of his dog; but I observed this and keep an eye on my Shepherd and nothing bad has happened. It's not the dog's fault!
Dodes1 December 12, 2013 at 12:09 PM
ChiCubs1- The Maltese was on a leash, how could that be its fault? The fault lies on the owner of the Shepard Mix. I own two bullies and trust me, I have spent countless hours training and I still do training daily with them regarding respect for anything outside of that fence. They wouldnt' dream of jumping on the fence growling at people OR animals. It is the complete control of the owner to be sure that the dog is safe and compliant. If your dog is able to get up on the fence, guess what? You get a bigger fence to avoid these situations. As a dog lover\trainer, I would also like to mention that them punching and kicking the dog did no good for them. If anything, it made the shepard focus more on what it wanted. That dog felt like it was getting attacked, thus had more adrenaline and survival instinct that kicked in.
Lia Maldonado December 12, 2013 at 12:09 PM
To the Pecenkas, if you see this message me on Facebook. I'd like to get Jack something for christmas. I feel awful that he had to witness his best friend being attacked. I also live in the Oak Lawn area. Lia Maldonado
ChiCubs1 December 12, 2013 at 12:22 PM
Dodes1 - I agree with you, it is within the owner of the Shepherd, but I feel that the Maltese had to be doing something prior to this happening. The Shepherd just doesn't growl and jump for no reason. Bella had to sense something. My Shepherd can jump an 8 foot fence if he wants too. He has done a few times - but he is VERY trained and wouldn't bite someone or another dog unless they came in his terriotry and harmed him. I also agree 100% that punching and beating Bella did not help the cause at all. Bella being 45 pounds tells me that she is a puppy and lacking training from her owner; but, still I feel that something is missing from this story and the Shepherd's instinct came into play.
IMLOVINIT December 12, 2013 at 12:29 PM
ChiCubs1 - You have no idea what this dog is like. I live in the neighborhood and that dog does nothing but bark, growl and try to jump the fence. I avoid that area of the neighborhood all together. Those dogs should have been addressed a long time ago. Just because your dogs are trained properly doesn't mean that this dog was.
kellie overland December 12, 2013 at 12:42 PM
I obviously wasn't there and I can understand someone wanting to put blame somewhere, but it IS possible that the Maltese did nothing to aggravate the other dog. I know someone who IS a responsible pet owner. Years ago she owned two Shepards. They were good, well behaved, trained and family loved dogs. One day she took them out for a walk on their leashes and they attacked another innocent dog who also was being walked by their owner on a leash. Both parties were minding their own business and the dogs just attacked. She was completely shocked that her dog would have done such a thing. I'm not bashing Shepards either. I'm just trying to point out that they are dogs - animals. It happens. It can happen to your dog, my dog, any dog. When owning pets, you take a risk. Even the most trained dog. NO OWNER can ever say my animal would never do that, because you just don't know.
JB18 December 12, 2013 at 12:43 PM
ChiCubs1 - No matter how you spin it, the owner of the Shepard is at fault. Your a Shepard owner/fan and this story puts a bad light on the Shepard breed itself. I have a greyhound and if a greyhound in the area I live did something like the Shepard did, I would probably be defensive because my guy is as sweet as pie. But I know in my heart of hearts if my greyhound and a terrier were in the same yard unsupervised, my greyhound would absolutely demolish the terrier. Just remember, dogs are animals and from time to time, they act as animals.
anthony December 12, 2013 at 12:56 PM
Trixy is a very friendly well groomed doll of a dog This is a tragedy very like grievous injury to a child or dear friend.. It is entirely 100% the dogs fault because of the negligence of the owner
anthony December 12, 2013 at 01:11 PM
The haha is everyone talks about pit bulls.. When one speaks in terms breeding often times unpredictable and vicious are often times used in the same sentence as Shepherds .. Of course Shepherds lovers say its not true , but the only defense is bad training! So when its a Suburban guy with a wolf its ok but when city guy has a terrier its a terrorist dog Instead of some wannabee hand picked tribute band that half the residents dont like...How about next festival we bring in Ceasar or some worthwhile entertainment... Instead of beer tickets and backslaps what was the free drink count again??
Michele Davies December 12, 2013 at 01:53 PM
Just a little bit of advice to Elaine Pecenka if you happen to read this. I work for an insurance company and you should definitely put a claim in with the neighbor's insurance company as they are liable for the damages. None of your vet bills or pain and suffering should come from your pockets or at your kids expence.
ChiCubs1 December 12, 2013 at 02:42 PM
Ok so now Shepherds are going to go higher on the list of the "dangerous breed". Please! So one Shepherd did a bad thing and now they will be in the same category as pit bulls which are another sweet and wonderful breed. IMLOVINIT - so what the dog barks and growls. Mine does that to one of my neighbors all the time that he doesn't like. Maybe this girl Shepherd just doesn't like people and if that's the case, their owners need a privacy fence that is high enough so she can't get out. and FYI - Shepherds bark and growl to protect their property. No one can step on my property without meeting the bark of my Shepherd.
Candi cullen December 12, 2013 at 03:02 PM
Wow no one said anything about it being the breed of the dogs fault!!! No matter what breed the owner of the animal is responsible !!! U shouldn't be afraid to put your own dog or child in your own yard !! If your dog cant be trusted then you should watch it Or put it on a leash in the yard especially if You know it can get out !!! And IF u didn't know it couldn't be trusted prier to this happening WELL u know now so tell me why is this dog STILL aloud to stay in the yard unattended ?? And BTW no one would have to contact lawyers or insurance companies if the owner would Man up and be responsible and pay for the dog to be fixed !!! And make sure these kids can still have a Merry Christmas !!!!
Laura December 12, 2013 at 03:53 PM
I would keep all of the vet bills and stuff that contains to Trixy and if he doesn't pay soon take him to court. And have him pay for everything.
JB18 December 12, 2013 at 05:22 PM
@MicheleDavis - Are you sure the owner of the dog's liability insurance would cover a claim? The actual act occurred on the other person's property.
Rick Drew December 13, 2013 at 05:53 AM
Oak Lawn animal control tends to be "manned" by those who could not make it as real cops. Our Siberian Husky got out of the house a few years back, ran across the park (with several people giving chase) - and lunged at a small dog that was being walked. The lady picked up her dog and ours walked away. Her dog then panicked and bit her (several witnesses, including some OL firefighters playing B-ball where it happened.) She called the police in OL and Bridgeview. And others. The cops thought there was a pack of wild dogs in the park - three ambulances and three squads showed up. The dog's owner (my GF) was unaware of this occurring. We had a friend staying with us for a couple of months - just got back from two tours in Iraq. He accidentally left the garage door open when going for a run.
Rick Drew December 13, 2013 at 05:56 AM
Continued: The idiotic dog cop INSISTED that my GF be ARRESTED. This assinine dog cop had a fit until the cops gave in and ARRESTED my GF - she spent half a day in jail. Seriously. The lady playing cop was a power-hungry b!tch. Zero county involvement. The county does not need to get involved - something smells here. But if it involves OL animal control, I would believe almost anything.
Lynsey Lynne December 13, 2013 at 10:58 AM
ChiCubs1, It is not a "crazy story", it is a sad story. Unfortunately, it happens far too many times to be considered merely "crazy". Your suggestion of the Maltese doing something to "antagonize" the Shepherd is just plain silly. I love dogs, all breeds! But, I would never be an apologist for a specific breed. Dogs are animals period. They are unpredictable no matter what breed they are. The owners have to take measures to prevent incidents of their unpredictability from happening. About a year and a half ago, new neighbors moved in next door to us. They have a German Shepherd. This dog is a huge nuisance in my neighborhood. It barks all day at anyone that walks by. They keep it outside a lot! We cannot even walk in our driveway without being barked or growled at. Very intimidating dog. Well, Last Friday night it got out of their yard and came after me on MY property! I did nothing to antagonize it! I wasn't on their property or even headed close. It seen me and came after me. Sometimes, dogs are just mean. Same with people. Being an apologist for a specific breed is akin to, say me being an apologist for all kids with blonde hair due to mine being sweethearts and having blonde hair. Or disliking all kids with brown hair because I encountered a bully with brown hair. All dog breeds are unpredictable. As owners, we have to be prepared. Especially the larger breeds that are capable of doing more damage.
ChiCubs1 December 13, 2013 at 08:13 PM
Well to me this is a crazy story. I know dogs and especially German Shepherds being that I grew up with them and own one. Shepherds are different then any other breed and saying they are a nuisance is just plain rude. They are bred to be protective of their owners and property. They also act on instinct which is why they are police dogs most of the time. Mine goes after my neighbor all the time that he doesn't like. There is something fishy that goes on in the house that my dog doesn't like. He has jumped over my 8 foot fence many times. I am able to catch him before he does damage but my point being - YES he is an animal and German Shepherds are not meant for anyone. Maybe Bella's owner shouldn't have a Shepherd or should have educated himself prior to owning one. And RICK DREW - I can't believe OL arrested your GF...that's just plain ridiculous. I hope that you have your loving husky back!!
scouter December 14, 2013 at 01:27 AM
IF a dog is NOT raised or trained correctly, no matter the breed, it can be vicious and mean. IF a dog is trained and loved and attention is paid (of the good kind), it is more likely to not attack, but dogs are animals and animals can be unpredictable. This sounds like the owners of this German Shepard are not responsible pet owners, nor do they seem to take care of this poor dog. Unfortunately for the little dog, she is suffering because the owner next door does not take care of his dog... and it is the OWNERS fault that this happened, the dog was being a dog that is not treated well.
Dodes1 December 15, 2013 at 06:48 PM
german shepards are used by police not because they go on instinct, it is simply the availability of the breed. Police are actually moving from the german shepard to the Belgian malinois.


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