Pit bulls attack man, kill dog in Westchester

WESTCHESTER – Westchester police are continuing their investigation into an attack by two pit bulls that killed a Westchester man's dog.

Carl Panek, 81, was walking his 9-year-old dachshund mix, Harry, about 9:30 p.m. Oct. 19 at Bristol Avenue and Chaucer Street in Westchester when two 2-year-old pit bulls, one male and one female, attacked the animal, leaving it with fatal injuries and Panek with wounds to his arms and hands.

Panek said he tried to fight off the pit bulls but was not able to, and neighbors called police when they heard his screams for help. By the time police arrived, the pit bulls’ owner had arrived and removed the dogs from Panek and Harry, who died at a veterinarian’s office a short time later.

Westchester Police Chief Steven Stelter said the animals had gotten out of their fenced yard when the owners were coming into the yard through the gate. They had been running through the neighborhood, even chasing two women who were outside into a car, before they encountered Panek and Harry, Stelter said.

Stelter met with the pit bulls’ owners and said the dogs are currently in quarantine at their home until the investigation is completed, when he will decide if the animals should be deemed as “dangerous” or “vicious.” The owners said the dogs have never attacked a human or another animal before now, he said.

“Once the investigation is complete, and if they’re deemed vicious, we’ll go to the Cook County State’s Attorney who will determine if the dogs should be put down. Only a judge can make that decision," Stelter said. "But we will carry out this investigation to the fullest extent that we can.”

Panek said the owners, whom he does not know, have not contacted him. He said he’d like to see the animals put down so that this doesn’t happen again.

“Pit bulls are bred to kill other animals unless they’re trained [not to], and these were wild dogs,” he said. “I was lucky they didn’t get my neck. [The owners] have never apologized to me. I cry myself to sleep, and I’ve lost eight pounds in one week. Harry was a part of the family.”