UPDATE 1/28/07: Criminal Charges Loom for Dog Owner
The owner of Sneaky has made conflicting claims as to the whereabouts of the animal and now faces two criminal charges in the case. The first charge, having a Level 5 aggressive dog, is a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. The interference charge is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a fine of $1,000.
Sneaky suddenly disappeared after biting Ethan Westergard this past December. First the owner claimed that Sneaky had been taken to Wapato, where it was then killed and buried. When pressed to produce the animal's body for rabies testing, the owner changed her story and claimed the dog was taken to the Cowiche area to be killed, where it supposedly escaped.
There is still no "Sneaky." As a result, Ethan's parents cannot make an accurate determination of whether or not he should be submitted to a six-shot rabies regimen at a cost of $2,000 thousand dollars.
Earth to irresponsible dog owners: The standard 10-day quarantine after a dog bite is to test for rabies, not to euthanize your dog.
1/23/08: Dangerous Pit Bull Slips Through City Code
Yakima, WA - The City of Yakima has had a pit bull ban in place for over a decade. What follows is a city's attempt to enforce the law and a "sneaky" pit bull owner who tries to evade it. In the meanwhile, a second child is bitten.
The saga of Sneaky -- the pit bull -- began last September when he bit a neighborhood boy on the thigh. Animal control officers concluded the dog was a pit bull mix and ordered the owner to find it a new home outside city limits after a 10-day rabies quarantine. Three months later though, the dog attacked again, this time biting a 7-year-old several times on the buttocks as he played outside.
The case first made headlines after Ethan's parents complained the city was slow to act on the incident, which happened close to Christmas. It resurfaced after the pit bull owner allegedly made vastly conflicting claims about the animal's fate, first stating it was put down and buried in Wapato and then saying the animal ran off in Cowiche.
City officials subsequently cited the owner, Bethany Ann Aguilera, for having a Level 5 aggressive dog as well as interfering with the impoundment of the animal. The first charge is a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. The second charge is a misdemeanor, punishable by six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
When asked why animal control officers did not immediately impound the dog, given that it was illegal to have and had also had bitten a child, Caruso, the city's top code enforcer, blamed the owner.
"We don't confiscate every pit bull we come across," he said. "They brought it back, it bit somebody else, now they're being cited for that."
Caruso's response angered Ethan's mother, Kim Foley, who said she wants to sue the city and is looking for a lawyer who will do it. "If they had taken [the dog] the first time it happened," she said, "my son wouldn't have been bitten."