Dogs attack students at Evergreen Park school
BY BOB RAKOW Correspondent December 18, 2011 10:38PM
Updated: January 20, 2012 8:12AM
Three first-grade students at an Evergreen Park elementary school were spared potential serious injury at the hands of two stray dogs thanks to the actions of two faculty members.
The Southeast Elementary School students were at recess Tuesday when they were attacked by the dogs — a pit bull and a Pekingese — that had escaped from a house in Chicago’s Mount Greenwood community, according to police reports.
“(The owner) said his kid left the door open and they got out,” Evergreen Park Mayor Jim Sexton said. “They came off the train tracks.”
Southeast School, 9800 S. Francisco Ave., is about one block east of the railroad tracks.
Physical education teacher Joe Santor responded immediately when he learned that students were being attacked.
“One of the staff members came into the building and said our kids were being attacked by dogs,” Principal Shaton Wolverton said. “Joe just dropped everything and ran outside.”
Santor kicked one of the dogs that had knocked one of the students to the ground. He then restrained the dog by sitting on it. He was bitten in the chest during the struggle with the dog, police said.
Melanie Senerchra, a teacher’s aide, removed her shoes and ran to the students being attacked, Wolverton said.
“Melanie lifted (a student) from the ground, and the dog had her by the pant leg,” Wolverton said.
Kim Leonard, a mother of one of the students who was attacked, praised the teachers for their quick response.
“We are so lucky that they were not scared of dogs,” said Leonard, a member of the School District 124 board. “I am very grateful for the actions of everyone.”
Leonard also credited Wolverton for meeting with the primary grade students after the attack to assure them the dogs had been captured and the school was safe.
No one was seriously injured as a result of the attack.
The dogs were taken to Animal Welfare of Chicago Ridge where they will be observed for 10 days, police said.
“It was pretty scary. They were amazing, and I am so grateful,” Wolverton said. “The kids came first. You don’t think. You just react.”
Wolverton also credited the students for not panicking during the attack. They followed teachers’ instructions and walked into the school rather than running, which could have further excited the dogs.
The dogs’ owner arrived at the school shortly after the attack. He was given two citations for having dogs at large, according to reports.