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Local News

Residents insist Joliet needs tougher laws for vicious dogs

JOLIET – Residents who have faced attacks by vicious dogs demanded on Monday that the city toughen up ordinances they said now leave neighbors vulnerable to attacks.

They included Greg Hidlebaugh, who shot one of two pit bulls who were attacking him, his wife and their dog Jan. 15 in the Timbers Edge Villas subdivision.

Hidlebaugh and other residents from the subdivision said the same two dogs have repeatedly attacked or chased people in the subdivision, and nothing has been done to stop them.

“The city police come out. Animal Control is called. Nothing gets done,” Hidlebaugh said. “This is an ongoing thing, and nothing gets done.”

The residents’ comments added some urgency to the Joliet City Council Legislative and Land Use Committee’s review of the city’s vicious dog ordinance Monday, which started out as a matter of clarifying language in the ordinance without making major changes.

Seven different residents spoke out about personal experiences dealing with vicious dogs.

“We live in a nice community, and everyone’s walking around with sticks in their hands,” said Tina Magro, another Timbers Edge Villas resident.

Hidlebaugh pointed out one of his neighbors in the audience, a 70-year-old man who was chased into his house by the two pit bulls one day when he went to get his newspaper.

“Now he carries a baseball bat with him because of those dogs,” Hidlebaugh said.

Bob and Doreen Swanson told of their experience with Rottweilers that were allowed to run loose in their neighborhood on North Reed Street in 2014. Bob Swanson said there were attacks in September, November and December before the city held a hearing in January to address the issue.

“There’s a huge gap in time,” Swanson said.

Among ideas discussed at the meeting were:

• Increasing fees and fines charged to owners of vicious dogs;

• Setting up procedures to ensure that dogs that attack people are seized;

• Creating a vicious dog registry that would list the addresses where they live on the city’s website.

Committee Chairman Terry Morris said the vicious dog ordinance would become “a top priority,” and the committee would meet again at a date to be determined in February to consider what should be done next.

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