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updated: 8/1/2012 7:01 PM

Lawsuit: Dog invaded West Dundee home, attacked woman, cat

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A West Dundee woman has sued her neighbors, saying their dog came into her home last summer, attacked her cat and bit her on the arm and leg in the process.

Judy Horton, of the 100 block of Ryan Lane, seeks damages of more than $50,000 from Victoria and Terry Schuler for the July 1, 2011, attack, which Horton's attorney says hospitalized her for four days and injured her cat.

"The dog entered her home, attacked her cat and attacked her," said attorney Troy Owens. "She was bitten and received significant injuries that needed to be treated."

Owens said the cat survived the attack; he was still trying to determine the breed of the dog, which he said was medium sized and weighed at least 40 pounds. The lawsuit argues negligence and a violation of the state's Animal Control Act and demands a jury trial.

The suit states the Horton did not provoke the dog and "at all relevant times, plaintiff peacefully conducted herself and remained within a location where she had a right to be, namely her own home."

Phone messages left Tuesday and Wednesday with Terry Schuler, which court records show lives in the 600 block of South Fifth Street, were not returned.

The Daily Herald viewed, but was not allowed to make copies of or photograph, a West Dundee Police report of the incident Wednesday in Owens' law office.

West Dundee police declined to release much more than the date of occurrence and the name of the victim to the Daily Herald. "As the case is currently working its way through the judicial system, it would be premature to release information that lays the foundation for the case," wrote the department's FOIA Office and Supervisor of Administrative Service Kevin Burke, citing prior court rulings regarding privacy issues.

According to the report, Horton called police at about 11:45 a.m. July 2, 2011, to file a report about what happened the night before. She told police that at about 11:30 p.m. July 1, she saw two dogs on her deck outside through her rear sliding door. Horton normally leaves a bowl of food outside for her cat, and the larger of the two dogs was eating from it, the report said.

According to the report, she opened the door to take the bowl away and the dog ran inside. She grabbed it by the collar and saw three tags: a West Dundee pet tag; a Kane County rabies tag and an tag with the phone number and address of its owners, the report said.

Her husband called the phone number, but there was no answer. He planned to walk the dog back to its home, but before he could do that it broke free from his wife and cornered their cat in the kitchen under a table, the report said.

"Judy tried to intervene and was bitten in the left ankle and right wrist by the dog," the report said. "The dog grabbed the cat in its mouth and picked it up. (Horton's husband) grabbed the dog by the collar and began striking it in the head in an attempt to get the dog to release the cat. The dog eventually released the cat and (he) led it back outside by the collar."

The cat sustained a broken femur and Horton received nine stitches, the report said.

Police took photos of the Schulers' dogs the next day and the Hortons were able to identify the dog that bit Judy Horton, the report said.

Earlier this year, Horton tried to take the Schulers to an arbitrator to settle the dispute, but they did not show up in court or even reply to Horton's complaint, records show.

Both sides are due in Kane County court on Oct. 11.

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