'Happy little girl' dies after attack by family dogs

'Happy little girl' dies after attack by family dogs


BLOOMINGTON — A 4-year-old girl died of massive blood loss after she was bitten by at least two dogs Friday at her family’s home.

McLean County Coroner Beth Kimmerling said Kara E. Hartrich, described by her mother as a “happy little girl who loved to sing and dance,” had injuries to her head, neck and arms.

The family owns three adult pit bulls, two non-neutered males and a female, which are under a state-mandated 10-day observation by McLean County Animal Control. Authorities believe the males are responsible for the attack.

Called at 5:10 p.m., rescue workers treated Kara at home before taking her to Advocate BroMenn Medical Center, Normal. She died in the emergency room at 5:50 p.m.

The family lives on Parker Avenue, a street of two-story houses with fenced yards, swing-sets and minivans in a subdivision named for streets in the Monopoly game. Many houses had lighted porch lights at mid-morning Saturday.

Kara was on the home’s main floor when she told her grandmother, who was babysitting Kara and her 2-year-old sister, that one of the dogs hurt her, Kimmerling said. The woman tried to separate Kara from the dogs, but the animals turned toward the woman, who then focused on protecting the younger child.

The woman was not physically injured.

During the quarantine, McLean County Animal Control staff and the county’s veterinarian will watch the dogs for changes in behavior, said Kera Brossette, spokeswoman for the McLean County Health Department. Unless the owners want the dogs euthanized, their future will be determined by the city of Bloomington, and eventually the courts.

The dogs’ vaccination and registration status remains under review, Brossette said.

Kibler-Brady-Ruestman Memorial Home is assisting the family with funeral arrangements.

Bite cases

The McLean County Health Department investigated 559 cases of animal bites or suspected rabies in 2012, the last year for which statistics are available. The department recorded 18,552 vaccinated dogs in the county that year, and 16,570 dogs registered with the county.

Severe animal attacks against humans have been rare in recent years in McLean County and none are believed to have resulted in death.

- The most recent, in 2012, involved a couple delivering phone books in Bloomington when they were attacked by a dog that broke through a screen door.

-A propane delivery driver was attacked by two dogs in 2010 when he was working at a rural Towanda farmhouse.

- A family’s dog in 2009 bit the face of a 14-month-old boy in Bloomington.

- Two dogs attacked two boys near Northpoint Elementary School in Normal in 2006; one of the boys required shots against rabies since the dogs could not be located.

- In 2005, a Bloomington man was bitten numerous times outside his home by a pair of dogs that lived nearby.

- A rural Carlock woman was seriously injured in 1992 when she was mauled inside a boarding kennel she was cleaning.

Dog bite injuries are highest for children ages 5-9, with their injuries more likely needing medical attention, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The American Humane Association says 70 percent of dog-bite fatalities occur among children younger than 10.

Illinois ranks second in the nation for dog bite claims, according to an annual report by State Farm Insurance Co., which received 337 bite claims in Illinois in 2012.


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