Attack Raises Questions
UDPATE 1/29/08: Lew Yallup remains in stable condition at Seattle's Harborview Medical Center. The hospital is not saying much, but people who live nearby say it could be a while before he comes home.
This is one of the more violent attacks in recent memory, but the Wapato Police Department say they get calls about aggressive dogs all the time. Just this morning, an officer had to shoot a pit bull that attacked and killed a rottweiler. Due to budget cuts, the department was forced to cancel its contract with an animal control officer. Now patrol officers are tasked with handling cases involving aggressive animals.
1/27/08: Doctors Trying to Save Victim's Leg
Doctors are trying to save Lew Yallup's leg after he was severely injured in a recent pack dog attack. It is reported that he will have an extended stay at Harborview Medical Center, the Northwest's major trauma center, where he underwent surgery late Friday.
Genevieve Dotson, an aunt of Yallup's, said she had already alerted authorities to concerns about the dogs. She twice told deputies in June that her neighbor's pit bull was being allowed to run loose.
"I was afraid. I told [the deputies] somebody's going to get hurt because those dogs are out there. I'm lucky they didn't attack me when I was going to the mailbox. I'm really upset about this. I think this guy should pay for this."
Sheriff's officials confirmed that authorities had been called to the same area on three prior occasions for complaints of vicious dogs. In one instance a puppy endured a severe neck wound, in another incident, a dachshund was killed.
1/26/08: Savage Pack Attack Injures Man
Wapato, WA - A 55-year old man collecting aluminum cans along the road was seriously injured when he was attacked by five dogs Friday afternoon. The savage attack exposed bone and muscle in the man's leg. A motorist happened by and saw the attack. He stopped and fired three rounds into the air from a 12-gauge shotgun scaring the dogs off.
Yakima County deputies and an animal control agent were able to find and capture four of the dogs. They were easily identifiable because they still had blood on them. The fifth dog was not located. The owner was cited for four counts of having an animal that is "permitted to cause serious injuries to humans," a gross misdemeanor that carries up to one year in jail and a $5,000 fine.
Stray dogs and dog attacks have been a problem in much of the Lower Yakima Valley for years. The county has two animal control officers who get up to 50 nonemergency calls per day for the entire county. Officials say more funding would be available if more county residents licensed their dogs. Only 10% are licensed, leaving approximately 50,000 dogs unlicensed. Tribal lands makes enforcement difficult because tribal land isn't subject to county dog ordinances.
In 2004, there was another vicious attack in Wapato, where 4-year-old Jose Basilio's arms were nearly torn from their sockets when he was set on by a half-dozen pit bulls. He was treated for six weeks at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where he was given a series of skin grafts to cover more than 60 deep bites to his head, back, legs and shoulders.
05/22/08: Flashback: Jose Basilio Attacked by a Pack of Pit Bulls