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Pit bull victim: It was ‘like I was hamburger’

Joseph Finley 62 lost his foot after being viciously attacked by two pit bulls during his early-morning run earlier January.

Joseph Finley, 62, lost his foot after being viciously attacked by two pit bulls during his early-morning run earlier in January. Screen grab courtesy, NBC5

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Updated: February 19, 2012 8:25AM

When Joseph Finley first saw the two pit bulls blocking his jogging path along the lakefront, he thought he could perhaps run around them.

Then they growled. He moved faster. They moved faster.

And then the two dogs — named Bullet and Uno — seized the 62-year-old man.

The dogs were “constantly yanking and biting and tearing and pulling, gnawing at my body like I was hamburger,” Finley told television reporters Tuesday, as he recovers at Stroger Hospital from the Jan. 2 attack at Rainbow Beach Park on the Southeast Side.

Finley lost his left foot in an attack that he said he was lucky to survive.

Finley set off on that January morning as he usually does — long before sun up — and was alone when the dogs attacked, he said. When the animals first took hold of him, he bashed one of them with some ankle weights. That only increased the dogs’ fury, he said.

Finley tried to stay on his feet, but the dogs were too strong. He cried out for help. No one came. He began to lose feeling in his left leg. As the biting continued, he told himself, “Joseph, you have to survive,” and he did everything he could to keep from passing out.

“I just knew that if I ever lost consciousness, he was going to tear into my throat,” Finley said.

Twenty, maybe 25 minutes passed, he said. At last, as he felt himself fading, he saw lights and heard gunshots. As the shots came, he felt the teeth fall away from his leg and his arm.

Police say it was a quick-acting neighbor who got to the dogs first, beating them with a baseball bat, before police arrived and shot the animals.

The dogs’ owner has since been cited for not properly restraining the dogs and not having a license, but he’s not been criminally charged.

Now, as Finley prepares to leave Stroger to begin rehab, he told reporters he hopes to one day jog again.

Finley also said the dogs’ owner should be criminally charged.

“These dogs attacked in a way of dogs that had been trained to kill,” he said.

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