ASHTON – After rescuing his wife from an attack by three dogs 2 weeks ago, and likely saving her life, Larry Ebert has altered his views somewhat on laws about dogs running loose.
"I've never been a huge proponent of leash laws, but unstable dogs shouldn't be allowed to run free, either," he said Friday. "Dog owners need to be responsible."
Ebert, 62, rural Ashton, was out for a morning bike ride April 21. As he rode along Dugdale Road, heading home, he saw his neighbor's three dogs attacking something in the ditch.
To his horror, he realized what they had was his wife, Aneda, 63, who had been out jogging and was about a tenth of a mile from home.
"When I got close enough to see it was her, I rode as fast as I could," he said. "I saw them drag her at least 15 feet."
He said he ran at the dogs, two pit bulls and a smaller brown dog, and yelled at them, scaring them off.
"I don't know what I would have done if they had decided to stay and fight," Larry said.
Larry called 911 on Aneda's cellphone and assisted her as best he could as she lay bloodied and torn in the ditch.
"His timing was wonderful," Aneda said. "He came along at the right time."
Aneda, who is 5-foot-1, suffered numerous bite wounds to her arms, the back of her neck, and a leg.
She was able to protect her face, and the dogs landed only one bite on her cheek.
The wounds on her arms are deep, large tears, requiring stitches, and the ones on the back of her neck were stapled. Bruises from the bites are everywhere.
Her leg is polka-dotted with puncture wounds, where the dogs bit deeply into her muscle.
Deep scratches on her upper back are healing.
She said the dogs ran at her and began biting at her elbows, quickly knocking her down and dragging her in a savage frenzy.
"It hurt so bad. I just wanted to die," she said. "I couldn't get that growling out of my head for about a week."
The dogs tore off the red T-shirt she was wearing over her tank top.
Aneda remained conscious throughout the ambulance ride to KSB Hospital in Dixon, and she remembers making a stop in Lost Nation to pick up a paramedic who could start an IV.
Once at KSB, she was X-rayed and then had surgery to clean the wounds and put drains in them.
She was released from the hospital April 25, and the staples came out a few days later.
Aneda's daily workout routine has stood her in good stead.
"They said she has good muscle texture and good circulations, which are two good things to have going for you with something like this," Larry said. "They were afraid some of the tissue would die, but that hasn't happened and won't now."
Aneda praised the doctors and staff at the hospital.
"They worked their magic," she said with a grin.
All three dogs were impounded by Ogle County Animal Control officers shortly after the attack and later euthanized with the owner's consent.
Both Larry and Aneda said the dogs had never behaved in threatening way in the past.
"They've been in our yard when our grandchildren have been here," she said.
Larry said that almost every day, weather permitting, he and Aneda bike and run past the house where the dogs were kept.
"I can't imagine why one day they decided to trip out like that," he said.
"We've lived out here almost 40 years," Aneda added. "Who would think it wasn't a safe place?"
The Eberts' home is filled with flowers and cards from well-wishers.
Several were handmade by the children Aneda teaches at Tilton Elementary School in Rochelle.
A retired physical education teacher, she teaches one day a week.
"Everyone has been just wonderful," she said.
The Ashton community fund paid for landscapers to come out and spruce up their front lawn.
Though healing, Aneda is still weakened from the attack. When she first got home, she had too little arm strength to even pour a cup of coffee.
"It's getting better," she said. "I can't wait to run again."