Dog's fate in hands of hearing officer

Dog's fate in hands of hearing officer

RANTOUL — Harvey the mastiff-pit bull mix is a friendly dog that enjoys playing with children, loves frolicking with other dogs in his home and is not a threat to anyone.

Harvey the mastiff-pit bull mix is an aggressive dog that attacked another dog walking down the street with his masters and should be put down.

Those were the arguments from the two sides at a Rantoul vicious-animal hearing Friday.

Hearing officer Scot Brandon, who also acts as village comptroller, is charged with deciding the dog's fate. He heard two hours of testimony — most dealing with a June 22 attack by Harvey on a Doberman Pinscher that was walking with his owners in front of Harvey's home.

Village attorney Ken Beth argued that the dog, owned by Mary Alberico of the 1100 block of Prairie View Drive, should be put down. An offer to move the dog to a shelter or other location outside Rantoul would have meant the dog could live.

Beth said because Alberico declined the offer, the dog will be put down if Brandon rules that it is vicious. Alberico, however, said she decided not to take the offer because an animal-rescue official told her she had a good chance of winning the hearing.

Attorney Angelica Wawrzynek of Mattoon, representing Alberico, said at issue is whether the attack was provoked. She said the owner of the other dog was partly to blame for the attack because he was yelling for Alberico to "come get your dog" prior to the attack, which agitated Harvey. Wawrzynek contends that the dog should be classified as "dangerous rather than vicious."

The attack occurred about 8:15 p.m. when William Samples and his wife were walking with their dog in the street near Alberico's home. Samples said their dog was on a leash when Samples spotted two dogs — Harvey and a beagle named Larry — come out of Alberico's house and begin running toward them.

The beagle was collared and returned to the house without incident, but Harvey wasn't as easy to apprehend.

Samples said he went into defense mode and began loudly yelling to Alberico to come get Harvey. He said Alberico didn't try too hard to collar the dog.

Alberico and two friends who were exiting her house testified that Harvey seemed to run up to the Doberman with tail wagging as if he wanted to play, but the incident soon turned into a fight.

Alberico said she initially didn't grab her dog because she was concerned about being bitten when the two dogs were "mouthing" each other. She was only able to pull him away after he had fixed his mouth around the Doberman's back leg.

Meanwhile, Samples had his dog's head pushed down so it wouldn't attack. He also produced a pocket knife and said he would stab the attacking dog if Alberico didn't get the dog away.

Both sides said Alberico tearfully pleaded with Samples not to stab the dog, at which point Samples dropped the pocket knife.

Samples said it "seemed like forever" before the incident ended, and it finally did when he began hitting Harvey and Alberico pulled her dog away.

When it was finished, there was blood on Samples and both dogs from the bites Harvey had made on the Doberman's leg — wounds that were not serious.

Samples said a tearful Alberico apologized to him after the incident and said she would have her dog "put down."

Alberico, however, gave a slightly different story. She said she asked Samples if she should have the dog put down, and he didn't say anything, so she walked away.

Samples said he took his dog to an emergency veterinary clinic in Champaign but didn't have the $88 to have the Doberman treated, so he took it to the family vet the next day. His dog's leg suffered three puncture wounds and a laceration, but no stitches were required.

Samples said he had scratches on his arm but didn't get them treated at a medical facility.

Danny Russell, a Rantoul animal-control officer, said he classified Harvey as vicious after reviewing patrolman Bert Richter's report of the incident and after meeting with police Chief Paul Farber and Lt. Jeff Wooten.

Alberico and two friends — Heather Moriarity, who lives with her, and Stacie Winings — said Harvey is a good dog that plays with the other dogs in his home and is even gentle with young children. They said they never considered the dog a threat to anyone.

Moriarity said she has a 14-year-old daughter, and Winings said she has six children, including some who are quite young, and they visit Alberico's house regularly and play with Harvey.

"He likes kids," Moriarity said.

They said the dogs got loose as Winings and her children were leaving Alberico's house, and the dogs were just looking to play when they spied the Sampleses and their dog.

"Harvey was doing a frolic, happy, wagging his tail," Alberico said, adding that she wasn't concerned there would be a fight, even when the dogs headed toward the Sampleses. At first, she said, Harvey and the Doberman just sniffed each other. Then it turned into a fight.

Alberico said her dog had gotten out of the house before but had never attacked another animal. She said she hasn't seen her dog since he was taken away.

Alberico also produced letters from friends saying Harvey is a good dog.

Samples said the incident "was a very traumatic experience."

"I'm a very reasonable person," he said. "This type of thing shouldn't be happening on the streets."

Brandon said he is not sure when he will make a ruling on the case. He said his ruling is eligible for appeal to the circuit court level.

Dave Hinton is editor of the Rantoul Press, a News-Gazette community newspaper. For more, visit

Sections (2):News, Local

Comments embraces discussion of both community and world issues. We welcome you to contribute your ideas, opinions and comments, but we ask that you avoid personal attacks, vulgarity and hate speech. We reserve the right to remove any comment at our discretion, and we will block repeat offenders' accounts. To post comments, you must first be a registered user, and your username will appear with any comment you post. Happy posting.

Login or register to post comments

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on July 12, 2014 at 8:07 am
Profile Picture

Golly, it's just so hard to see who might be the irresponsible party in this matter ...



Hey, where's that "eye rolling" emoticon?




I feel bad for the animal, though. Bad pet owners hurt everyone.

bettycat wrote on July 12, 2014 at 9:07 am

The dog got out with the kids. That happens. Dog wanted to say hello, scuffle ensued. That unfortunately happens between dogs. No one was hurt, pay his vet bill, its over. Total overreaction. My boxer had his nose bit in a kerfluffle at Pet Smart once. I didn't know he was bleeding until I saw him dripping our way through the store. I had been annoyed when the owner said "Oh, he does that", but I accepted her apology and went on. Got Max a napkin, alerted the staff to the hazmat situation.... Not a huge deal. Harvie seems like a wonderful dog. He must be missing his family terribly....I know they miss him.

jmh910 wrote on July 12, 2014 at 10:07 am

I think it's a fine line to call a dog vicious after one attack on another dog. I had two male dogs that didn't like each other. They got into several bloody fights before we had to rehome one. The one we kept (who was actually the aggressor) never attacked another dog, person or any other animal the rest of his life.  He was good natured and friendly.  I think in some cases, just like humans, some dogs just don't like each other.  When the dog is a so called "bully" breed like a mastiff, Rottweiler, pit bull, etc... I think people jump to the conclusion that they are a danger to everyone. Some truly are, but some aren't.

Joe American wrote on July 12, 2014 at 10:07 am

Dog A attacks Dog B, unprovoked..

If the best argument that the defense has is that the victim yelled to the agressive dog's owner to "get your dog", there really is no case here.

Samples should have taken out the dog.

Dog A has no right to exist past this point.  End of discussion.


btw, I'm giggling watching others desperately trying to defend the agressive mongrel.

EdRyan wrote on July 12, 2014 at 11:07 am

All the human yelling and screaming could have provoked things.  The dobie may be leash reactive to other dogs.  Harvey may be a nice guy, but getting him rehomed sounds like the best outcome.

welive wrote on July 12, 2014 at 3:07 pm

this os from a guy who has had several pitt bulls and had one killed by a police officer and one i had to get put down due to a officers neglect.However the animal was not on a lease so the owner is at fault.

Danny Russell, a Rantoul animal-control officer, said he classified Harvey as vicious after reviewing patrolman Bert Richter's report of the incident and after meeting with police Chief Paul Farber and Lt. Jeff Wooten.

he should be put down end of story


EdRyan wrote on July 12, 2014 at 4:07 pm

I like dogs....people, eh, not so much.  And I have no idea what you are talking about.  And I don't know anything about you or your pit bull story.

rsp wrote on July 13, 2014 at 7:07 pm

A report is a piece of evidence, it is not a fact. Reports just record opinions and statements of what people say and think at that time. I have never seen one without a mistake. If he isn't willing to do his own investigation he shouldn't be making this decision.

sweet caroline wrote on July 12, 2014 at 7:07 pm

To WeLive:  It's difficult to make sense of your rambling post. 

LocalTownie wrote on July 14, 2014 at 9:07 am

Harvey escaped the house while kids were opening the door. Sounds like an accident. I once owned a rottweiler mix who knew how to open the screen door. After one escape we installed a hook high on the door to prevent him from getting out again. Excitement & fear demonstrated by the owner of the doberman caused Harvey to get aggitated and play turned into a scuffle. This can happen with any dog. Why can't the owner of the doberman ask Harvey's owner to pay for the vet bills and move on? Why a lawsuit? Why have another person's dog taken and possibly killed? The whole thing seems completely unreasonable.

welive wrote on July 17, 2014 at 9:07 am

@ sweet 

that was a direct quote from the story.

And why are we wasting tax payers money on this? Put the dog down give the owners a fine for not following the leash law.end of story.

Not a rambling post the truth.


Sid Saltfork wrote on July 17, 2014 at 3:07 pm

Nothing better than a dog story to attract comments.  The only think better is when a law enforcement officer shoots a dog.  Still waiting for a "man bites dog" story.

I do hope that Harvey gets to plead to a lesser charge.

LocalTownie wrote on July 18, 2014 at 12:07 pm


Indeed, why ARE we wasting taxpayer dollars on this? Why couldn't the owners have handled this amongst themselves like adults? And are you saying dogs inside their own homes should be on leashes? Because I'm pretty sure Harvey got out of his home by accident, it's not as if he was roaming around loose and caused a stink.  Besides, why on earth would we euthanize every dog that violates the leash law? That doesn't even make sense.

Clearly you are not a dog owner.

Paul Lyons wrote on July 18, 2014 at 5:07 pm

Illinois Statutes currently differentiate vicious dogs from dangerous dogs based on the degree of injury caused.  A dangerous dog is one that has attacked a person and not caused serious injury, while a vicious dog is one that has caused serious injury or death. It increases the criminal penalty to a Class 3 felony punishable by up to five years in prison if the owner of a vicious dog fails to keep their dog in an enclosure or fails to spay or neuter the animal and it gets loose and kills or seriously injures someone.  If the owner knowingly allowed the dog to run loose or failed to take steps to keep the animal in an enclosure, the offense is a Class 2 felony, carrying a potential prison term of three to seven years. 

I dog is deemed vicious and subject to the above restrictions after the third attack to a person when such attack has not caused serious injury.
The law was enacted in 2006.