“They gnawed at my body like a hamburger,” said Joseph Finley, the 62-year-old jogger who was attacked by two Pit Bulls while jogging on the Lake Michigan shore on January 2. The victim spoke publicly about the gruesome mauling for the first time on January 17.
Unfortunately, Mr. Finley, a sleep therapist at a local hospital, will never jog again. His left foot and part of his leg had to be amputated as a result of the severe injuries. He also suffered serious injuries to his right arm.
He remembers the details vividly as he fought for his life on that morning near Rainbow Beach Park . He described how he started his daily run about 4 a.m., and as he began his third lap near 78th Street he realized the two dogs were there. He told the Chicago Tribune, “At that point I’m thinking, well, I don’t know exactly how I’m going… to deal with this…I don’t know if they’re going to be violent or non violent.’’
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He said he turned and began to run (which is, unfortunately, the worst course of action in this situation) and the dogs ran after him, barking and growling.
“Then they started to attack me…these were not just regular dogs. These dogs attacked in a way of dogs that have been trained to kill,' he said. He described how each dog grabbed one of his feet and gnawed at the foot and leg in what seemed a coordinated effort to take him down, reports the Daily Mail.
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Mr. Finley said he had weights on his arms and used them to hit the dogs to try to stop the attack, but his defense tactics only resulted in the Pit Bulls becoming more agitated and determined as they ripped his legs and feet.
Although he struggled to keep standing, Finley told the Tribune that he felt himself weakening as he lost blood. "I saw nothing but blood, just pure blood,” he said. "My main objective through all of this was to not let get to my neck. “I knew if I fell down…it was going to be disastrous.”
But the dogs did pull Mr. Finley to the ground, and he began screaming for help. At that time, Stanley Lee, 35, a construction worker who lives in a nearby apartment, opened his window and saw what was happening. He grabbed a baseball bat and ran down and started hitting the dogs but still could not stop the attack. .
Gregory Finley, Joseph’s brother thanked Stanley Lee at a press conference on January 3 and said, “He’s a hero... He saved my brother’s life, and his wife is an angel, too.” Lee credited his wife also, saying, “She was the reason I opened the window in the first place. I was hot and trying to sleep, but she was cuddling up to me. And each time I scooted away, she’d scoot closer, until I was at the edge of the bed — and that’s when I got up to open the window and we heard that man yelling for help,” the Chicago Sun Times reports.
Joseph Finley is not sure exactly when he realized he could not feel one of his legs anymore, but said he “didn’t really care.” With his last surge of strength, he hit one of the dogs as hard as he could with one of the weights and knocked it back a few feet. After that he said he was becoming weaker and weaker. He heard voices and finally saw lights and knew the police had arrived.
“I heard somebody say 'Get away of him, dogs...get away from him,'" Finley said. But the dogs were not letting go. Then he heard an officer say, “The only thing we can do is shoot them.” The last thing he remembers was hearing gun shots and the pulling and gnawing on his legs gradually stopped. He described that he was “fading” and very short of breath.
Mr. Finley was in critical condition when taken to Stroger Hospital and doctors were not able to save his left foot because the extensive damage to the soft tissue affected his kidneys, according to doctors.
Dr. Andrew Dennis told NBC Chicago, 'It was a rough go for several days. He was on a breathing machine. He was very sick. He got a lot of blood. I mean, his injury was nearly equivalent to stepping on a landmine.”
Mr. Finley has made remarkable progress in the two weeks since the attack, said Dr. Dennis and he has been moved from the trauma unit to a nearby rehabilitation center. .
Jimmy Johnson, 57, the owner of the two pit bulls was not charged with any criminal violations but he did receive tickets for failing to restrain the dogs and not having city dog licenses. This could result in fines up to $200. Fines for failing to restrain the two dogs could reach $10,000, according to Chicago Animal Care and Control. Johnson is scheduled to appear for an administrative court hearing in March.
“There should be something done about things like this, said Joseph Finley from his wheelchair, It’s not right at all that you can’t walk outside without the fear of being attacked by wild and vicious animals.”