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DeKalb police seek dog that bit woman

Finding the animal will help determine if rabies shots are needed

DeKALB – Authorities are trying to identify the owners of the pit bull that bit a Sycamore woman's arm severely enough to require surgery.

Part of the urgency behind the search is to determine if she will have to undergo rabies shots.

The pit bull's owners, described as two white men and one Hispanic or Indian man in their 20s, walked away from DeKalb's new dog park in Katz Park after another couple at the park called the police. The bite victim, Angela Rojas, said her primary focus was to get to the hospital after she was attacked.

"It all happened really fast," Rojas said. "Our goal now is to find out if the dog has his vaccinations."

Rojas, 30, was at the baseball diamond converted into a dog park Saturday afternoon with her boyfriend of 10 years, Max Hoover, and their 1-year-old cattle dog mixed breed, Mona. As Rojas tried to separate Mona and another dog when their play got too rough, a pit bull came from behind and bit Rojas' left arm, she said.

She had reconstructive surgery Saturday at Kishwaukee Hospital and received eight loose stitches that will help the wound heal from the inside. Rojas, who was released from the hospital Tuesday, is unable to work this week because she can't type.

She hopes the owners of the pit bull come forward by Saturday so she can find out if the dog has had a rabies vaccination. Otherwise, she'll have to receive a series of rabies and hemoglobin shots.

DeKalb police are asking for the public's help to find the dog and its owners. Anyone with information should call the DeKalb Police Department's non-emergency phone number at 815-748-8400. They can also leave an anonymous tip with DeKalb County Crime Stoppers at 815-895-3272.

"[The owners] left on foot eastbound toward First Street, not in a car," said DeKalb police Cmdr. John Petragallo. "We think they were local."

State law requires dog owners to report dog bites involving people and other animals to county animal control, Petragallo said. The dog would have to visit a veterinarian and be quarantined at home for 10 days, and animal control officials would decide whether to start an investigation and ask a judge to declare the animal vicious, Petragallo said.

The dog park where this happened is owned by the DeKalb Park District and is relatively new. Katz Park, 393 W. Dresser Road in DeKalb, opened in December after a five-year lobbying effort to have a local place for dogs to run off-leash. Two signs at the park, one at the entrance, indicate dog owners are responsible for the actions of their dogs and require all dogs must wear current license tags and be up-to-date on shots.

The pit bull is grey with a white chest, weighs between 90 and 120 pounds, and wears a silver choke collar.

Hoover said he has seen the owners and the pit bull at the dog park before. He shook the hands with the dog's owners and even played with the pit bull, whose name he thinks is Buddha.

"I pet him and everything," Hoover said.

Neither Rojas nor Hoover said they have anything against the pit bull breed. Rojas' friend is a pit bull advocate.

"Sometimes dogs are in situations where they snap," Rojas said. "Unfortunately, I was part of that situation."

Hoover and Rojas have been going to Katz Dog Park two or three times a week with Mona. Now they say they plan to stay away from the park for a while.

Ray Ochromowicz, DeKalb Park District interim executive director, was unavailable for comment Tuesday. Brad Garrison, superintendent of parks and development, declined to comment.

Phil Young, president of DeKalb Park District board, and Per Faivre, park board vice president, did not return calls seeking comment Tuesday.

How to help

Anyone with information about the pit bull or its owners is asked to call DeKalb Police Department's nonemergency number at 815-748-8400. They can also leave an anonymous tip with DeKalb County Crime Stoppers at 815-895-3272.

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