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Teachers step in to stop dogs from attacking students

Updated: January 21, 2012 8:13AM

Three first-graders at a southwest suburban elementary school were spared serious injury at the hands of two loose dogs thanks to the actions of two faculty members.

The students at Evergreen Park’s Southeast Elementary School were at recess Dec. 6 when they were attacked by the dogs — a pit bull and a Pekingese — that had escaped from a house in Chicago’s nearby Mount Greenwood neighborhood, police said.

Principal Shaton Wolverton said when a staff member ran into the school, 9800 S. Francisco, and said the children were being attacked by the dogs, physical education teacher Joe Santor sprung into action.

“Joe just dropped everything and ran outside,” Wolverton said.

Santor kicked a dog that had knocked one of the students to the ground, then restrained the dog by sitting on it. He was bitten in the chest during the struggle with the dog, police said.

Melanie Senerchra, a teacher’s aide, also ran to help the students being attacked, Wolverton said.

“Melanie lifted (a student) from the ground, and the dog had her by the pant leg,” Wolverton said.

“It was pretty scary. They were amazing, and I am so grateful,” Wolverton said. “The kids came first. You don’t think. You just react.”

Kim Leonard, a mother of one of the students who was attacked, praised the teachers for their quick response.

“I am very grateful for the actions of everyone,” said Leonard, a member of the School District 124 board.

No one was seriously injured as a result of the attack.

The dogs were taken to the Animal Welfare League in Chicago Ridge, where they were to be observed for 10 days, police said.

The dogs’ owner, who arrived at the school shortly after the attack, told police his child left a door open, allowing the animals to get out. He was ticketed for having dogs at large, police said.

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