ROUND LAKE BEACH, Ill. (STMW) — What do you do when your neighbor calls out for help?

Thomas Lichtwalt, 59, of the 1600 block of Lotus Drive, heard dogs barking on Tuesday, setting off his own dog. Then he looked out and saw two dogs barking and snarling at his 74-year-old neighbor who was at the end of his driveway on the way to getting his mail.

One of the dogs eventually was shot by a police officer.

“I went outside and I yelled, and the dog came toward me, to my driveway and yard. I ran back into the home and got my phone and my training stick,” he said Friday, explaining he has trained police dogs and other dogs for 30 years.

“He backed away after showing him my (training) stick and I dialed 9-1-1,” he said, explaining the dog was about six inches from his elderly neighbor. “He was pretty shaken.”

When Round Lake Beach officers arrived he said the dog charged at the sergeant and didn’t back away until after he drew his weapon.

“The dog charged him numerous times,” he said. He was surprised the officer didn’t shoot the dog sooner.

“This dog was truly aggressive. It was no puppy. It was an adult weighing 50 to 60 pounds,” he said, “This dog meant business.” His neighbor told police the dog’s teeth were bared and the hair on his neck stood on end.

“He eventually had no choice,” Lichwalt said referring to the police officer. “It’s sad the dog had to be shot, but what if a little kid was out there. Who knows what would’ve happened?”

The dog’s owner, Javel Townsend, claims the dog was just a puppy and he found a witness who said police shot the dog when it was just barking. Lichtwalt said he did not see any other witnesses at the scene, although there was a group of women down the street yelling.

Townsend said Christy Matthews of Johnsburg, who used to live in the area, had driven by and saw the officer shoot the dog while it was barking three or four feet away from the officer.

Townsend said he did not know about a hole in the fence around the yard of the home he moved into recently, but police said he admitted he knew there was a hole in the fence. That was why he was charged with allowing a dog to run at large. He was also charged with not having the dog vaccinated for rabies and having a dangerous dog.

“It’s the last thing anyone wants to happen,” said Deputy Chief Richard Chiarello. “The real story is the neighbor saved the senior citizen from a dog attack.”

Townsend was cited by Lake County Animal Control earlier this year when he lived in Hainesville for failing to confine a biting dog and failure to have the dog vaccinated, said Robin Van Sickle, program coordinator of animal care and control.

That was in March, and then in April he was cited again. He relinquished the dog to authorities and it was euthanized. The dog had bitten other dogs in the neighborhood, she said.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2010. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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