When Jason Koth's dog was attacked and severely injured by a neighbor's dog earlier this year, Carpentersville police told him there wasn't much they could do.
Buddy, a soft-coated wheaten terrier, was on a leash in Koth's backyard when a LARGER DOG escaped from a neighboring yard and went after him, Koth said. Buddy suffered several lacerations and dental problems as a result of the March attack, amounting to roughly $3,700 in medical bills.
At the time, Carpentersville didn't have protocols in place to prevent a similar incident from happening again, officials said. Wanting to protect Buddy, his children and other community members, Koth sent a letter to trustees, asking them to implement stricter rules for dangerous dogs.
A few months later, Koth got his wish when the village board approved of tightening an ordinance, coined "Buddy's Law." The measure now institutes regulations owners must follow once a dog is labeled vicious or dangerous.
"(Koth) did the right thing. He saw a problem and asked us to help," Village President Ed Ritter said. "In this case, we agreed with him. There has to be much more owner responsibility."
In 2015, 30 dog bites to a person or a domestic animal were reported in Carpentersville, most of which were unprovoked, Police Chief Michael Kilbourne said. Seven have been reported so far this year.
In those instances, he said, police officers who responded to the calls had little control over how to address the situation. "What we can do moving forward is, once a dog has been identified as a dangerous or vicious, there are different safety measures the owner of that dog is required to meet before they can keep the dog within the municipal limits," Kilbourne said. "It gives the village greater control by putting a higher level of responsibility onto an owner."
According to the ordinance, a dog would be deemed dangerous after biting, injuring or menacingly chasing a person or other domestic animal without being provoked. A vicious dog is described as one which attacks and causes serious physical injury or death to a person or domestic animal.
Provisions for controlling such dogs include keeping them indoors or in a fenced yard, muzzling and leashing them if they leave an enclosed area, acquiring liability insurance and displaying signs indicating their presence. The dog must also undergo training and be evaluated and microchipped at the owner's expense, according to the ordinance, which is not limited to any specific breed.
"The owner has to be responsible, and they can't make excuses for their dog's bad behavior," Ritter said. "Once something goes wrong, there's no excuses after that."
If the village doesn't receive proof these regulations are being followed, Kilbourne said, the dog would no longer be allowed within Carpentersville. Additionally, an owner in violation of "Buddy's Law" would appear in front of a hearing officer and could be fined up to $1,500 for each offense.
"I think it's great that (village officials) were able to hear something, understand the severity (and) address it, just as any government agency should," Koth said. "This doesn't help me going backward, but it helps everybody moving forward."