CALUMET HEIGHTS — A 64-year-old woman is in critical condition after she was mauled by three pit bulls - which also attacked their owner - while walking her pet Chihuahua Friday night.
The attack occurred just before 7 p.m. in an alley in the 8700 block of South Cregier Avenue, according to Larry Langford, a fire department spokesman.
"She was screaming, 'Help!' and 'Just get the dogs off me,'" said D'Angelo Wilbourn, 17, who lives next door to the pit bulls's owners and witnessed the attack.
Three pit bulls — an adult male and female, and a female puppy, according to neighbors — were biting the elderly woman's leg as she tried to protect her Chihuahua, which was eventually killed in the attack.
Wilbourn said he tried calling the dogs' names while a neighbor honked his horn. The pit bulls' owners began beating their dogs with two-by-fours from the alley, he said.
"One of the [two-by-fours] broke on one of the dog's heads," he said. "Then they finally ran back into the backyard."
Neighbors placed a shirt over the woman's legs as they waited for an ambulance.
The dogs "chewed the whole leg to the bone," said Shakiyla Wilbourn, 21, D'Angelo Wilbourn's sister, who came outside after she heard the commotion.
"We couldn’t move [the woman]. We couldn’t really do anything. ... She was more concerned with the life of her dog. She was like, 'My dog. My dog. He didn't even have a chance.'"
The 64-year-old woman was rushed to Stroger Hospital, where she was still listed as "critical" early Saturday. Neighbors said doctors told the woman's family she might lose her leg.
One of the pit bulls' owners — a 22-year-old woman — was bitten during the attack and treated at Advocate Trinity Hospital.
Animal Care and Control removed the dogs Friday night, police said, and the owners were issued several tickets. Citations included: three counts of failing to restrain an animal, three counts of failing to procure dog licenses, and three counts of failing to procure rabies vaccinations for the dogs.
On Saturday morning, blood, flesh, torn clothing and crushed dog treats were still scattered through the alley. Neighbors thought the elderly woman carried the treats in her pockets to give to her dog.
The woman frequently cut through on her nightly walks, neighbors said.
The pit bulls would get riled up, but were contained by a 6-foot gate and padlocked door. On Friday night, neighbors said, the gate may have been unlocked.
The dogs "aren't that friendly," D’Angelo Wilbourn said, "but they ain't never attacked anybody like that."
The Wilbourns' grandmother, Annie Harshaw, 74, said the male dog has nipped at her fingers through a fence while she's gardened. Animal Care and Control has visited the house several times, she claimed, but never removed the dogs.
Shakiyla Wilbourn said the animals were usually fine near people, but didn't respond well to other dogs. The animals' owners — whom she described as longtime friends and neighbors — were "hurting" Saturday.
"They're good people. We never thought this would happen," Shakiyla Wilbourn said. "They were sincerely hurt. They were out there in the mud and dirt, and they got bit as well trying to help [the woman]. They're hurting."