A recent account in TDN.com, a Longview, Washington-based news site, lays out the horrible tale of a 5-year-old boy attacked by a pitbull and police efforts to find the animal. The dog attack took place as “the victim was riding his bike on the sidewalk when the dog, tethered to a 15-foot rope outside a duplex” bit him. The newspaper reports that there were no witness to the initial attack “but neighbors heard the boy screaming and pulled the dog off the boy.”
The victim needed 40 stitches and may eventually require further medical attention, such as a skin graft.
Despite being tethered at the time of the attack the animal is still at large because, TDN reports, “when animal control authorities arrived… the 3-year-old pitbull named Lexi was gone. Lexi’s owner (said) her son had taken off with the dog and she did not know where he was.” According to the newspaper local authorities are especially concerned about finding the pitbull so that they can ensure it has been properly vaccinated against rabies, after it was discovered that “employees at the Oregon animal hospital listed on the (rabies) certificate said the veterinarian who allegedly signed it had never worked at the clinic” and that the animal had never been treated there.
The actions of the owners in the wake of this Washington dog attack are especially disturbing. Pet ownership carries with it a significant burden of responsibility – responsibility for the well-being of the animal, but also for keeping the community at large safe from the animal when circumstances so require. The paper reports that the dog’s owner was issued a $771 ticket, even with the animal still at large. The size of the fine was increased because the attack took place in a public place (i.e. on the sidewalk) despite the pitbull being tied up at the time.
As an Oregon and Washington dog bite attorney it is important to emphasize the responsibility all animal owners have for controlling their pets at all times and cooperating with police and public health officials when there are questions about an animal’s conduct. Pet safety is everyone’s responsibility but, first and foremost, it is the pet owners’.