No Consensus After Pack Mauling
WAPATO WA - The pit bull had a grip on Lou Yallup's leg, the bone exposed and muscle tissue hanging in pieces. The other dogs were smeared with blood and tugging on the 55-year-old man, trying to pull him into a ditch.
"It was the most horrific thing I'd ever seen," says Seth Krueger, 26. "If I didn't have a shotgun, I wouldn't have been able to get those dogs off of him."
He grabbed his shotgun and fired into the air, scaring the dogs away. His instinct was to shoot the dogs, Krueger says, but he feared accidentally shooting Yallup. Nearly a week after the Yallup mauling, Krueger says he was not only shocked by the attack, but surprised that it involved his neighboring dogs, which always seemed friendly.
"He wasn't just bit, he was literally being consumed," says Ron Gamache, the Yakima County commissioner.
While Seattle doctors are try to save Yallup's leg, four of the five dogs are under a 10-day quarantine and will be destroyed. The dogs' owner, Ruben Deanda faces four counts of allowing a dog to cause serious injury, gross misdemeanor charges that each carry up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine. He pleaded innocent in Yakima County District Court Tuesday.
The county imposed stiffer penalties after a 4-year-old boy nearly had his arms torn off by a pack of dogs that invaded his grandmother's yard and José Basilio had a 6 week stay in the hospital, where he had a series of skin grafts from a dog attack that left him with more than 60 deep bites to his head, back, legs and arms.
Despite a string of serious dog attacks in Yakima County in recent years, there is no consensus on what to do about it. County commissioners claim to be concerned but they don't plan to crack down on owners of dangerous dogs or provide more money for animal control enforcement.
The county sheriff has an $8.3 million budget, with $128,000 dedicated to animal control, most of which comes from dog license fees. There is an estimated 60,000 dogs in the county but only 5,500 are licensed.
Yakima County Sheriff Ken Irwin requested $48,000 to hire a third animal control officer, but county commissioners denied the request due to lack of funds. Irwin plans to arm his two animal control officers with shotguns by the end of the year, to protect themselves against dangerous dogs.
"Right now I've only got a stick," says animal control officer Randy Sutton.