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.”