On one of those gorgeous, 80-degree days in March, Audrey Fisher and her 12-year-old daughter took Willy, their tiny Pomeranian Papillon mix, to Montrose Beach Dog Park to throw around a ball. It was supposed to be a fun outing.
Instead, it was a nightmare, ending days later with their 2-1/2-year-old, 8-pound Willy dead – chomped by a pit bull that wanted its pink ball. The family also is facing a $5,700 veterinary bill because the pit bull owner refused to identify himself and left the scene.
Now, Chicago Police and the family are seeking help in finding and charging the unidentified owner, whose photo witnesses snapped on their cell phones as he left.
“It was a beautiful day. The beach was packed,” Fisher said Thursday, recounting the March 17 incident. “My daughter was throwing Willy’s ball. He’d go get it and bring it back. Out of nowhere came this huge pit bull, hovering over Willy and the ball. Then Willy was in his jaws, clamped through the back and abdomen and shaken back and forth.”
Pandemonium erupted. Other dog owners tried to help, according to a police report, punching the pit bull in its face to no avail, until its owner finally approached, yelling at those punching his dog, and eventually unclenching his pit bull’s jaw.
Dozens of witnesses have posted the incident and the culprit’s photo, on MonDog.org, run by the Chicago Park District’s community group partner overseeing the dog park.
“When it was biting my dog, my mom told me not to look. I tried to tell myself it wasn’t happening,” said Fisher’s daughter, Fay. “By the time the pit bull let go, I was crying ’cause I knew I was going to have to say goodbye to my dog. I miss him a lot.”
When Fisher and others asked the man for his name and number – park district rules stipulate owners of dogs that attack other animals at dog parks must foot the vet bills – the man refused, yelling at people who followed and photographed him, witnesses said. Willy died of his injuries on March 20. Fisher and police have been circulating fliers.
“We’ve handed out fliers with the alleged owner’s picture at various pup parks in the area, and to dog walkers, hoping someone will recognize this guy,” said Police Sgt. Art Harb. “It’s terrible. This family has a $5,700 bill, and someone has just walked away.”
Mondog.org has posted a link for its community of dog lovers to donate to help the family pay the vet bill, and Fisher is grateful, but what she really wants is justice.
“I can’t thank all the dog owners who helped that day, even going with me to the ER, where the pit bull owner said he would meet me and never showed up,” she said. “He had no remorse. I know it wasn’t a person that was murdered, but it was still a member of my family that I loved. You can’t do that to people and walk away. I hope we find him.”
Anyone with information on the man’s identity can call police at 312-744-8320.