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People v. Helm

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Fifth District

October 6, 2014

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
WILLIAM P. HELM, Defendant-Appellant

Motion to publish granted, October 6, 2014.

Rule 23 Order Filed: September 2, 2014. Appeal from the Circuit Court of Madison County. No. 13-MR-141. Honorable Barbara L. Crowder, Judge, presiding.

SYLLABUS

The trial court properly declared that defendant's pit bull was a vicious dog under the Animal Control Act and ordered that he be euthanized after he bit one of defendant's neighbors, since the trial court's decision was not against the manifest weight of the evidence, which showed that defendant's dogs were roaming around outside, unsupervised and without muzzles or other restraints, defendant's other dog was attacking one of the neighbor's dogs when the neighbor kicked that dog in an attempt to protect his dog, and the dog that bit the neighbor had previously bitten other people.

For Appellant: Curtis L. Blood, Collinsville, IL.

For Appellee: Hon. Thomas D. Gibbons, State's Attorney, Edwardsville, IL.

JUSTICE CATES delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Goldenhersh and Spomer concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

CATES, JUSTICE.

Page 28

[¶1] The State filed a complaint under section 15 of the Illinois Animal Control Act (Act) (510 ILCS 5/15 (West 2012)) and sought an order declaring Roscoe, a dog owned by the defendant, William P. Helm, to be a vicious dog within the meaning of section 2.19b of the Act (510 ILCS 5/2.19b (West 2012)). After a bench trial, the circuit court declared Roscoe to be a vicious dog and ordered that he be humanely euthanized. The court also ordered the defendant to pay a $100 public safety fine. On appeal, the defendant contends that the circuit court erred in declaring Roscoe to be a vicious dog where the evidence established that his conduct was justified under section 15(a)(3) of the Act (510 ILCS 5/15(a)(3) (West 2012)), because he was protecting a member of his household. We affirm.

[¶2] Roscoe, a five-year-old pit bull, is the subject of the case. Roscoe is owned by the defendant, William P. Helm. Roscoe and a Husky called Chloe lived with the defendant in a duplex on Mockingbird Street in Troy, Illinois. On May 3, 2013, Roscoe attacked and bit Kenneth Whittaker, a neighbor of the defendant. On May 14, 2013,

Page 29

the State filed a one-count complaint seeking to declare Roscoe a vicious dog. Subsequently, the State amended its complaint to add a second count. In the amended complaint, the State sought an order declaring Roscoe to be a vicious dog under section 15 of the Act, and alleged that Roscoe was found to be a dangerous dog on three occasions (count I), and that Roscoe, without justification, attacked and seriously injured Kenneth Whittaker (count II). The case proceeded to a bench trial, and the defendant appeared without counsel. A summary of the evidence follows.

[¶3] Kenneth Whittaker, the State's first witness, testified that he lived near the defendant on Mockingbird Street in Troy, Illinois. He shared a residence with his sister and his nephew, and their two dogs, a Jack Russell terrier called Pork Chop and a boxer mix called Lad. Whittaker testified that he arrived home after work at about 6 p.m. on May 3, 2013, and let the dogs outside so that they could relieve themselves. As he stood outside waiting for the dogs, he noticed a pit bull (Roscoe) and a Husky (Chloe) running ...


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