On Thursday, the Lake County Animal Care and Control department revised its description of Blue, the dog involved in a fatal Chicago-area dog mauling, from a French bulldog to a French bulldog/bulldog mix.
This came after they reviewed additional paperwork that showed conflicting information on the breed from the Fox Lake Police Department, a local hospital where the boyfriend was treated and a veterinary clinic where the dog had been seen in April, according to Animal Care and Control Department Program Manager Robin Van Sickle.
The original classification of Blue as a French bulldog provoked many questions, prompting Van Sickle to look further into the matter.
“We don’t do DNA testing — we don’t do genetic testing on these dogs,” she said, noting the agency relies on information it receives as well as visual assessments.
As for reports that Blue is actually a breed known as a Shorty bulldog, Van Sickle says her agency can’t classify him that way because that is not a breed registered by the American Kennel Club.
On Saturday, a suburban Chicago woman was attacked and killed by one of her French bulldogs. The dog had previously been removed from her home after biting her boyfriend, according to authorities.
Lisa Urso, 52, died after being extensively bitten and scratched inside her Ingleside, Illinois home, Lake County Coroner Dr. Howard Cooper tells PEOPLE.
Bleeding heavily, Urso managed to make it outside to the porch, where her body was later found by friends, he says.
“There was a struggle,” Cooper says. “She was being attacked; there’s no question.”
Urso, who weighed about 120 pounds, was found with “a very large percentage of her body” covered in injuries. Most of her clothing had been shredded off, he notes.
Urso had two French bulldogs and one border collie mix. Cooper said both of Urso’s French bulldogs were found with blood on them, but it’s unclear whether one or both dogs attacked Urso.
“We know one is an aggressive dog who had bitten someone before,” Cooper explains.
Blue, the larger French bulldog, is about 2 years old and weighs about 55 pounds. According to Cooper and county Animal Care and Control Department Program Manager Robin Van Sickle, there were reports that Blue was rescued from a dog fighting ring, or had been bred to be a fighting dog. This aspect of the case is continuing to be investigated.
Van Sickle did not know how long Urso had owned Blue, but says the dog caused serious injuries to Urso’s boyfriend on April 13, when he required stitches on his shoulder and upper arm, and again when he was bitten on the foot and leg on April 21. That incident prompted the dog to be taken and held under a 10-day quarantine, during which “he did not give us cause for any concern,” Van Sickle says. “He did not show any aggressive behaviors toward us.”
Urso asked for Blue’s return on April 30, according to Van Sickle.
Fox Lake Police Chief Jimmy Lee said asking for her dog back turned out to be Urso’s “fatal mistake,” the Chicago Tribune reports. “The lady wanted her dog back and it attacked her viciously and killed her.”
“She loved that animal,” Cooper says. “If she ever thought it would have attacked her, I’m sure she wouldn’t have wanted it back. Clearly she believed she was fine with him.”
All three dogs appeared to be well cared for, Van Sickle says: “It was evident to us this was a very loving home, a very pet-friendly home.”
Authorities aren’t sure why the attack occurred.
“There are so many circumstances that could be involved,” Fox Lake Police Cmdr. Dawn Deservi tells PEOPLE. “It’s definitely a tragic situation.”
After the mauling, all three of Urso’s dogs were taken to the county shelter, where Blue’s behavior seemed markedly different from last time he was there, Van Sickle says.
“He’s very aggressive,” Van Sickle says. “He fixates on you. He growls, barks, lunges…he’s targeting.”
Blue will most likely be humanely euthanized “once we receive the go ahead,” Van Sickle notes.
The other two dogs have not “shown or exhibited any behavioral signs that we would be concerned about” and the agency will try to have them rehomed, she says.