Chicago's South and West Sides Grapple with Surge in Dog Bite Incidents Amid Pet Resource Divide

Chicago's South and West Sides Grapple with Surge in Dog Bite Incidents Amid Pet Resource DivideSource: Unsplash / Amy Humphries
Jo Marquez
Published on November 21, 2023

A surge of dog bite complaints was reported in Chicago this year. According to Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago has experienced a record 1,054 dog bite complaints in 2023 up until mid-October. These complaints are primarily stemming from the South and West Sides, neighborhoods that are notably devoid of dog parks and pet shops.

As confirmed by Armando Tejeda, the city's Animal Care and Control (ACC) spokesperson, there exists a stark divide between these neighborhoods and affluent areas like Lake View, which teems with pet stores and veterinary clinics. In light of this, to bridge the resource gap in disadvantaged neighborhoods, ACC has introduced initiatives such as the Leash and Collar Campaign in collaboration with Rescue Chicago.

Higher-resourced areas like Uptown, where a distressing dog bite incident involving victim Krysten Kelly occurred, are also beset by complaints. Thus, interventions are needed at a city-wide level to combat the issue of dog bites effectively.

Possessing concerns that dog bites are often the result of fear of their environment, Jonathan Polich, a dog trainer from K9 University Chicago, advocates for better training and socialization for dogs. He, along with residents like Lashawna Britton, believes communal dog walking spaces would help curb incidents of barking, growling, and potential biting as dogs familiarize themselves with each other.

The enforcement rules at Chicago dog parks are reviewed in a WBEZ article, which asserts the importance of residents ensuring that dogs are vaccinated and properly leashed when not in designated off-leash areas.