OREGON – The owner of three pit bulls that attacked and seriously injured 63-year-old Aneda Ebert will not face criminal charges, Ogle County State's Attorney Mike Rock said in a news release.
"After reviewing the Ogle County Sheriff’s Department investigative reports and potential criminal statutes, it has been determined that prosecution is not viable," Rock said in the release, sent late Friday afternoon.
Ebert was attacked April 21 while jogging near her rural Ashton home. Her husband, Larry, was riding his bike and happened upon the scene. He drove off the dogs, which had Aneda pinned down in a ditch, and called 911, likely saving his wife's life. She had severe injuries to her neck, shoulder, arms and leg, spent 4 days in the hospital and underwent surgery to repair her wounds.
The dogs were impounded by Ogle County Animal Control officers shortly after the attack and later euthanized with the consent of the owner, who has not been publicly identified.
At the time, Tom Champley, Ogle’s animal control administrator, said the county can cite an owner of dogs running loose dogs, but “there’s not a fine if a dog bites.”
Vanessa Scott, Whiteside County’s animal control warden, said authorities can charge owners of attacking dogs when there is evidence the owners knew their dogs had the potential to do harm without provocation. Previous incidents, she said, can serve as proof.
Champley agreed. “Legally, there has to be a prior report on these dogs” before animal control can pursue charges, he said.
The Eberts were familiar with the dogs and said they never had been a problem before, and they didn't know what prompted the attack.
"They've been in our yard when our grandchildren have been here," Aneda said at the time.
Almost every day, weather permitting, he and Aneda bike and run past the house where the dogs were kept, Larry added.
Aneda, a retired physical education teacher, teaches one day a week at Tilton Elementary School in Rochelle.
Aneda has started to do some walking, but says it will be a while before she can get back on a bike.
"I'm still in a lot of pain," she said Sunday. "The outside wounds are healing well, but the doctor says it could be 5 to 6 months for the internal stuff."
Aneda said the muscle is torn from the bone and skin is torn from the muscle. While it's nice to start walking again, it's frustrating how painful any movement can be.
"I just don't have that spring in my step," Aneda said. "It still hurts too much to run, and I haven't even tried the bike yet. I'm trying my best to carry on, but it's painful."
While the decision not to prosecute didn't come as a surprise, it was still disappointing, Aneda said.
"I wasn't surprised, because of the Illinois statutes, but with the severity of the attack, it just seems that something should have happened," Aneda said.
What's the law?
Click here to see the state statute that pertains to this case is the Illinois Animal Congtrol Act (510 ILCS 5/).