RANTOUL — A Rantoul man who was cited for cruelty to animals after his three dogs killed another dog last month said he is an animal lover and would never want to see a dog killed.

Laotis L. Buckley, 44, of the 1400 block of Kessler Drive, called Sept. 26 — the day the attack happened — “a horrific day and beyond my control.”

Buckley said he will appear in court and fight a $125 fine levied by the village.

“Money is not the issue,” Buckley said, adding it is his reputation that he will be fighting for.

“I’m truly sorry for the loss of a dog’s life, as I love dogs. The truth is, I did not see the dog running up until it was too late, or I would have maced him first.”

According to a Rantoul police report, the dog that was killed, a poodle, had gone across the street into a vacant lot to relieve itself in the 1600 block of Eater Drive. Buckley’s dogs went after the poodle, killing it.

Witnesses said they heard Buckley urge the dogs to get the poodle by saying, “Get him. Get him.”

“I tried everything that I could to break up the fight and never said ‘get him, get him,’” Buckley said.

“I have owned dogs for over 20 years, and nothing like this has ever happened. My oldest dog is 10 years old, and I have been living in Rantoul for three years.”

Buckley said his goal is to avoid the dogs at large running through the neighborhood, and he makes detours to do so. He said he walks his dogs four to five times a week, and when he has passed his neighbors, he greets them, and none of his dogs has barked or shown aggression.

“They simply keep walking straight,” he said.

Buckley initially was cited for “dangerous dog” and was scheduled to appear at a hearing before the village attorney at the Rantoul municipal building. Police

Chief Tony Brown said that citation was changed to “cruelty to animals” because the village’s ordinance does not allow a “dangerous dog” citation if a dog attacks another dog, only a human.

But Buckley said the original citation was vacated because “none of my dogs are dangerous.”

“Also,” he said, “according to the Champaign County Animal Control Ordinance, Section 37, a dog can be deemed dangerous for attacking another dog if unprovoked.”

He said that was not the case for his dogs as they defended themselves “against a dog at large, where one of my dogs was also bitten in the process.”

Buckley said he will provide evidence to “disprove the false claim” of cruelty to animals.

“I never in my life would want to see a dog die, or any animals. Anyone who knows me knows the animal activism work of my past and that I would never intentionally harm any animal,” Buckley said.