Harvey, his owner leaving Rantoul

Harvey, his owner leaving Rantoul

RANTOUL — Mary Alberico will lose her house in Rantoul. But she doesn't mind the trade-off. She'll get to keep her beloved dog, Harvey.

The 7-year-old mastiff-pit bull mix was due to be euthanized if Alberico hadn't agreed to a deal with the village of Rantoul in exchange for the animal not being declared "vicious."

The deal involved removing Harvey from town. Alberico said her dogs (she also has an older beagle named Larry) are like her children. So, she will be moving with them out of Rantoul.

Alberico was willing to do about anything to keep Harvey. She said she would have even been willing to break into the Champaign County Animal Services Facility in Urbana and hightail it out of Illinois.

She wasn't joking.

"I was in tears. I really thought they were going to kill my dog," said Alberico, an eight-year Army Reserves veteran. "If they were going to kill my dog, I might have been the crazy veteran lady who broke down the doors and headed out of state with the dog."

Alberico has incurred bills to house Harvey at the county facility ($400) and to pay her attorney ($1,000). She said she can't afford to keep two homes, so she'll allow the lender to foreclose on her house in the 1100 block of Prairie View Drive.

But she said all of the heartache and bills were worth it to be reunited with her dog.

"He was ecstatic," Alberico said. "He was so excited, I couldn't put the collar on his head."

Rantoul Comptroller Scot Brandon said village attorney Ken Beth had offered Alberico the option to get the dog out of town prior to a hearing last month about whether Harvey should be considered a vicious dog. But Alberico said she turned down that option because an animal rescue official told her she had a good chance of winning the case.

Asked whether he had been close to declaring the dog vicious, Brandon said, "The circumstance that happened met the definition of a vicious dog in the ordinance. But we wanted to provide them an opportunity and an alternative to having to put the dog down.

"We have to protect the public as well," Brandon said. "I think this agreement protects the public and provides her a chance to find an alternative place for the dog to live."

And that place will be outside of Rantoul. Alberico declined to indicate where she would be moving.

She will be making the move with the dogs, friend Heather Moriarity and Moriarity's 14-year-old daughter.

Terms of the agreement require that Harvey be moved out of Rantoul by Aug. 14; that he be muzzled and in the company of an adult if taken out the front door (he can play in the fenced-in backyard without a muzzle); and that he be kept in a gated room if visitors come to the house.

The dog did not appear to be a threat to humans when a reporter visited Alberico's house Thursday. He was friendly and was more interested in his ball than anything else.

At the July 11 hearing, Brandon heard two hours of testimony. At issue was whether Harvey fit the criteria of a vicious dog after he bit the thigh of a Doberman Pinscher that was walking with its owners, William Samples and his wife, in front of Alberico's home. The Doberman was on a leash.

Harvey and Larry the beagle had gotten out when some friends were leaving Alberico's house. The beagle was collared and taken back inside, but Harvey came up to the Doberman Pinscher — at first playfully, then latched onto the dog's thigh.

Attorney Angelica Wawrzynek of Mattoon said Samples was partly to blame became he became agitated and yelled to Alberico to "come get your dog" as he feared for their safety. Samples held his dog's head down so it would not get in a fight with Harvey.

Samples pulled out a pocket knife and threatened to stab Harvey if Alberico didn't get him away. He later relented and threw the knife on the ground. Alberico dragged Harvey away.

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

Alberico testified, however, that she asked Samples if she should have the dog put down, and he didn't say anything, so she walked away.

Samples said his dog was treated by the family veterinarian the next day, but no stitches were required. Samples said he sustained scratch marks on his arm but didn't get them treated at a medical facility.

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

Harvey's case garnered a great deal of interest on the Internet. Alberico started a "Free Harvey Now" page on Facebook, which had 940 likes as of Thursday evening. A "Send Harvey Home" petition at Care2 had 450 signatures.

Supporters also wrote to Mayor Chuck Smith to ask that the dog be saved, Alberico said.

Alberico said she tried everything to get help for her dog but got little help.

"To me, when you get a dog, you promise it a forever home," she said. "When I adopted both Harvey and Larry, I promised I would take care of them. That's why the shelters are so full now. (People say), 'Oh, I've got to move. ... I don't want to keep my ... commitment.'"

Alberico said it took her two weeks to find a lawyer willing to take the case.

She said she didn't take the original offer to get Harvey out of town because she didn't know where he could go.

"I love my dog to death," Alberico said. "If I knew there was a family that would have just took him, I would have let him go. I'm not going to drop him off at another shelter. If I really thought my dog was vicious, I would have took him myself to be put down."

Russell said the village has had "a few" vicious dog cases over the years. He said some owners simply sign a release relinquishing ownership of the animal, and some dogs are euthanized.

Euthanization depends largely on a determination by county animal control officials.

"It depends on the behavior of the dog," Russell said.

In some cases, the dogs in question have bitten humans, some have bitten animals and some have killed animals, Russell said.

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

Sections (2):News, Local
Topics (1):Pets


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ROB McCOLLEY wrote on August 08, 2014 at 9:08 am
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The dog did not appear to be a threat to humans when a reporter visited Alberico's house Thursday. He was friendly and was more interested in his ball than anything else.


What training & qualifications did "a reporter" utilize in forming this assessment?

787 wrote on August 08, 2014 at 1:08 pm

The reporter was apparently neither growled at, nor bitten.   That was the basis of the assessment.

And ultimately, some bank or credit union is going to take the punishment on this one. 

With all due respect...  that's a really irresponsible decision.

Pfcdoublem wrote on August 08, 2014 at 3:08 pm

Dog was declared vicious after reviewing police report and a conversation with chief Paul garner and lt. Jeff Wooten. So that means Harvey wasn't even evaluated, a piece of paper and people's opinion determined his fate. I am sure the owner has put a for sale sign on house and have endured a financial hard ship to save family member. Giving anyone only 2 weeks to solve a problem like this is like trying to move a mountain over night.

DogParty wrote on August 08, 2014 at 3:08 pm

There is absolutely no excuse for allowing a dog to run through a door and start a fight. 

This lady "loves her dog to death". She almost did, and unless she decides that she loves her doggy enough to exercise and discipline him,she will probably have a problem like this again.

Love your dog enough to walk him for 2-4 miles everyday, love him enough to make him walk next to you and not in front of you. Love him enough to train him to sit and wait for permission to go through doors and gates. Love him enough to control his access to food, meals are a dogs paycheck and should be controlled by the person who does most of his handling. 

Its probably too late for Harvey, but, dogs need to be socialized with other dogs, people, and small children so they know how to act when in their presence. One of the best things you can give your dog is a group "obedience " class.

I have heard this so many times, people love their doggy so much and they show it by not learning anything about dog behavior and communication but myths and falsehoods, and when it is suggested that they need to put forth the effort to have a well behaved pet, they twistedly equate that suggestion into somehow being cruel to their sweet puppy dog. As if holding the dog accountable for his behavior they would somehow be a bad dog owner. 

Get off your butt and exercise your dog lady, or you will end up in this situation again. 

EdRyan wrote on August 08, 2014 at 4:08 pm

Oh please, dogs do dog things and this particular thing is a lot of dust and noise most likely caused by a lot of over excited humans running around and screaming when the dogs just want to sniff each other.

A great deal of taxpayer money was wasted here.  A standard for evaluating the severity of what has happened when one dog bites another is for example puncture wound depth and another is need for stitches. None of that here, just scratches. The reports of this altercation indicates that the whole thing is about a bunch of freaked out humans who needed to calm down and take a drink or something.  The dog that latched on was probably reacting out of fear due all of the screaming and yelling.

So Rantucky is going to lose a taxpaying citizen and gain a bank owned distress sale house.  


ROB McCOLLEY wrote on August 12, 2014 at 6:08 pm
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I agree with everything DogParty wrote.


If "dogs do dog things" and if those "dog things" impede on the rights of others, then people who can't prevent "dog things" from happeneing can't have dogs.



ilya_k wrote on August 08, 2014 at 4:08 pm

I for one am hoping that harvey and his owner are not moving to the Champaign-Urbana area. To go further, I would be in favor of a ban on owning pit bulls in Champaign-Urbana.

The national statistics on dog-related human fatalities are pretty clear. Thus in 2013 out of 32 dog-related human fatalities in the U.S., 25 were due to pit bull attacks. The statistics for the previous years are similar, see http://www.dogsbite.org/dog-bite-statistics-fatalities-2013.php

These dogs have some generically engineered traits that make them particularly dangerous.

Of course, as DogParty notes in his post above, with proper care, excercise, discipline and training in the hands of responsible dog-owners, pit bulls can be perfectly good pets.

But let's face it: Most people have no idea how to properly care for and train these dogs. Even if they did know (assuming some sort of a massive educational campaign took place), a great many pit bull owners will either not have the time or simply not bother to or even not want to care for their dogs properly and responsibly. In the hands of such owners pit bulls are too much of a danger to the public, especially small children. We would all be better off with an outright ban.

The other alternative is stiffer criminal and/or civl penalties for dog owners whose dogs commit serious attacks on people or on other dogs. But somehow I don't think that  people like Harvey's owner, who apparently has huge emotional blinders on when it comes to her dog, would be much deterred by stiffer penalties.




DogParty wrote on August 08, 2014 at 5:08 pm


I assume you meant genetically instead of generically.

Again, falsehoods and Explanatory Myths do not help any dog situation.

Ban Pitbulls? Seriously? Okay, lets ban Pitbulls, who decides which dog is a Pitbull and to what degree is a mixed breed dog a Pitbull?

Breed bans are unfair to responsible dog breeders and owners. While we are at it, lets ban Dachshunds and Yorkies. They are responsible for a lot of dog bites too.

Until people can be enlightened and motivated to be engaged in their dogs nature, drives and behavior, we will have problems like this in society.

ilya_k wrote on August 08, 2014 at 8:08 pm

Yes, I did mean "genetically".

Regarding your other points: it is neither a "falsehood" nor an "explanatory myth" but   a fact that in 2013 out of 32 people people killed in dog attacks, 25 were attacks by pit bulls. The data for the previous years is similar: during the 2005-2013 period out of 283 human fatalities in the U.S. due to dog attacks, 176 of these, or 62% were caused by attacks by pit bulls. 


So pit bulls are by far the most lethal breed, accounting for well over a half of all human fatalities in dog attacks.

Yes, banning pit bulls would be unfair to responsible dog owners. But this is small price to pay for reducing the deadly statistics mentioned above, and there are hundreds of other breeds that responsible dog owners and dog breeders can choose from.

You can't change human nature, and even assuming some kind of a massive educational effort (which does not seem to be in the cards), there will always be a large percentage of people who simply do not care about the danger that their dogs may pose to others.

In addition, there is a huge number of people, like Harvey's owner, who are well-intentioned but don't understand how to properly care for their dogs and, in particular, confuse discipline with cruelty. Given the degree of emotional attachment that people feel towards their pets, and the emotional blinders that so many people wear when it comes to their dogs, it seems doubtful to me that even a determined educational effort would have much of an effect.

Increasing penalties for serious dog attacks could probably work to some degree, but again only partially. 

So, while educating people is certainly a good idea, and all dog owners should try to watch a few "Dog Whisperer" episodes on the National Geographic channel, in the case of pit bulls I am in favor of an outright ban.








highspeed wrote on August 09, 2014 at 8:08 am

25 deaths out of how many dogs that are owned. Can that number even be calculated?

  What about humans and other animals? There are  some that could be labeled vicious too! I know some two legged animals who i could consider vicious, guess they should be euthanized!! 

Pfcdoublem wrote on August 08, 2014 at 9:08 pm

So the assumption is that Harvey is a non obedient dog with a uneducated owner. How is it known if this dog has gone through any classes? Is it known that this owner dosent find a obedient dog to be important? Is it known that this owner feels no responsibility for the event? Has anyone with poor comments attempted to reach out on dogs facebook page to help educate or offer some training aid, I bet no we just want to critsize and judge when we all know the press leaves things out. 

Paul Lyons wrote on August 09, 2014 at 12:08 pm

Does this community have Home Rule that allows it to overstep state laws on animals? If not, it must follow the Illinois Animal Welare Act for vicious dogs.

(510 ILCS 5/2.19a)
    Sec. 2.19a. "Serious physical injury" means a physical injury that creates a substantial risk of death or that causes death, serious disfigurement, protracted impairment of health, impairment of the function of any bodily organ, or plastic surgery.

(510 ILCS 5/2.19b)
    Sec. 2.19b. "Vicious dog" means a dog that, without justification, attacks a person and causes serious physical injury or death or any individual dog that has been found to be a "dangerous dog" upon 3 separate occasions.
(Source: P.A. 93-548, eff. 8-19-03.)

I don't see where the incident fulfilled the defintion of a vicious dog in Illinois statute or even serious physical injury.


SaintClarence27 wrote on August 11, 2014 at 4:08 pm

Champaign County also has a code on this, but it appears to be exactly the same.

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on August 12, 2014 at 6:08 pm
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"Without justification" is vague and overbroad, rendering the entire statute useless and unenforcable.

SaintClarence27 wrote on August 13, 2014 at 8:08 am

Rantoul's code is different, and allows for a dog to be termed vicious easier.