A 17-month-old Aurora girl was fatally mauled over the July 4th weekend while attending a house party in the 1800 block of Cumberland Drive in Joliet, Illinois. Marley Wilander was sleeping in an upstairs playpen while her parents attended a party downstairs. At some point in the evening, the homeowner’s two pitbull mix dogs escaped from the basement where they had been secured. The homeowner went upstairs to investigate a noise and found one of the dogs actively biting the child. According to the Joliet Police Department, the homeowner was able to separate the dog from the child and then called 911.
At approximately 1:30 am, an ambulance transported the unresponsive child to AMITA Health St. Joseph Medical Center in Joliet, where she succumbed to her injuries at approximately 3:30 am. Will County Coroner’s Office officials reported the autopsy performed the following day showed the child sustained “multiple bite marks throughout her body.” The preliminary report indicated she died from her injuries.
The dog responsible for the attack was relinquished to Joliet Township Animal Control and was eventually euthanized to be tested for rabies. Joliet authorities did not seize the older second dog because it was not believed to be involved in the attack. Currently, no charges have been filed against the homeowner.
Unfortunately, this fatal attack is the third reported attack in Illinois since January. In February, a 25-year-old man was fatally attacked by his own dog in 2000 block of Mystic Drive in Plainfield. The young man was transported to AMITA St. Joseph Medical Center and then transferred to Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood where he succumbed to his injuries two day later. The three other victims of the attack, a 52-year-old woman, 25-year-old woman, and 19-year-old man, survived with non-life threatening injuries. It is unclear why the pit bull attacked its owner and other family members. A press release on the incident issued by the Plainfield Police Department indicated the initial investigation showed the attack was “unprovoked.” The dog responsible for the attack remained aggressive following the attack and was shot by officer after they were unable to gain full control of the animal.
In May, a 52-year-old Fox Lake woman was fatally attacked by her French bulldog mix. According to the Fox Lake Police Department officials, the victim was found unresponsive outside around 4:43 pm. Authorities at Lake County Animal Control took possession of the dog believed to be responsible and reported the dog had recently been held at animal control after two separate biting incidents in April. The victim had retrieved the dog from Lake County Animal Control days before the fatal attack.
Illinois Dog Bite Laws
When attacks like these occur, it is important to know the legal options available. Under the Illinois Animal Control Act, a dog owner is liable to pay civil damages if a dog attacks someone who is peacefully conducting themselves in an area lawfully and without provocation. Illinois’ strict liability statute holds owners liable for injuries their pets cause to other individuals. Owners may be held responsible for injuries even if the animal has never demonstrated aggressive behaviors in the past.
Our Naperville personal injury lawyers have extensive experience successfully litigating and settling serious dog bite cases for our clients. If you have received dog bite injuries or have suffered the loss of a family member from a fatal attack, the Illinois Dog Bite Lawyers at John J. Malm & Associates will fight for your right to financial compensation.