Dog invades home, hurts 85-year-old and her pet
URBANA – It wasn't quite what Wendell and Margaret Winkelmann of Urbana were expecting early on a recent morning when Wendell got out of bed to let their little dog, Gandy, outside.
Just outside the door by the bushes, Margaret Winkelmann said, was a big pit bull.
And it wasn't in the mood for idle chitchat.
Quickly, Wendell Winkelmann tried to pull Gandy back inside, but the pit bull ran right inside the house along with them.
"That was three o'clock in the morning," said Margaret Winkelmann, who got out of bed and came running when she heard the disturbance. "Nobody expects a pit bull to come into your house at three in the morning."
The pit bull, which appeared to be a good twice the size of their own 30-pound dog, went after Gandy, she said. And all heck broke loose as the Winkelmanns, both 85, spent the next half-hour or so trying to pull the pit bull off their dog in the kitchen.
"I hit it with a golf club, and that didn't do any good. I poured water on it, and that didn't do any good," said Margaret Winkelmann, who wound up falling down during the episode and hurting her back.
Finally, Gandy managed to run into a nearby laundry room closet, with Winkelmann trying to get the closet door shut after him – but she couldn't, she said, because a sack of potatoes was in the way. So she threw open the door to the attached garage, and the pit bull ran in there, she said, probably thinking that's where Gandy went.
"I slammed the door and called the police," she added.
Margaret Winkelmann said an animal control officer came and took the pit bull away. An ambulance also came by, and so did Mike Kobel, chief of the Eastern Prairie fire district.
Kobel said he just happened to be awake with his scanner on, and heard the 911 call.
When he arrived, the pit bull was already – well – in custody, he said. He and the ambulance crew helped Mrs. Winkelmann get settled, because she didn't want to go to the hospital that night, and she promised them she'd go see her doctor the next day, he said.
"She thought she knew the dog from the neighborhood," Kobel added. "Bless her heart, she was in so much pain."
Kobel said he hasn't had contact with pit bulls before.
"Some of them are pretty decent dogs," he added, "but any animal will turn on you if it feels threatened."
Margaret Winkelmann said there was quite a mess to deal with when it was all over.
"There was blood all over me and the kitchen and the laundry room," she said.
She said her husband wound up being unhurt in the fracas. But 12-year-old Gandy, a part-cocker spaniel, was bitten pretty badly and was kept with their veterinarian for four days. He is home now, and doing fine, she said.
As for herself: Winkelmann said she was bitten on the thumb and that's healing OK. Her back, that's another story. An X-ray showed it was broken, and she is now wearing a back brace.
"I'm in a terrible lot of pain when I try to walk," she said.
Champaign County Animal Control Director Stephanie Joos said the pit bull remained unclaimed as of Friday afternoon, and the unidentified owners have until 2 p.m. today to come and get the dog. Otherwise, the dog will be euthanized next week because it's been too aggressive to be a candidate for adoption, she said.
Winkelmann says she'd like to say a few words to the owners if she can find them.
Given her current condition, combing the area around their home on G.H. Baker Drive is out of the question, she said, but she hopes any neighbors who think they know that pit bull will get in touch with her and her husband.
Winkelmann says she might have even seen the pit bull herself, before the episode at her home. She once saw a young woman out walking a dog that looked like that one, she said.
Can she describe the dog?
"This dog was fawn-colored, pretty sleek and well-fed, terribly strong – God-awful strong – and that's about all I can tell you," she adds.
The face of that dog, she recalls with terrifying clarity. It's even popping up in her nightmares, she said.
"It was terrifying," she said. "I wake up and I can see that dog's face."