Small Town Suffering Big Price
Wapato, WA - In a region known as the Lower Valley -- which has experienced multiple violent attacks by loose pit bulls -- the town of Wapato recently adopted a pit bull ban, as well as a few other dangerous breeds: pit bull-mixes, mastiffs and American bulldogs. Violation of the new ordinance subjects dog owners to a $250 fine and subsequent violations of a $500 fine.
In the past 5 months, police have destroyed 6 of these dogs. In January, a 55-year old man was savagely attacked by loose pit bulls and flown to Harborview Medical in Seattle. Last year a 4-year old girl was seriously mauled in an alley behind her home. In 2004, 4-year old Jose Basillo's arms were nearly torn off by loose pit bulls. He too was transported by air to Harborview.
The ordinance will not have any authority in two nearby Yakima tribal housing projects because they fall under tribal jurisdiction. Part of the issue with dangerous dogs in the Lower Valley area is due to tribal jurisdiction. After an attack, the dogs sometimes run back onto tribal lands making identification and, or impoundment of the animals impossible.
To make matters worse, Wapato and other like-towns in the area, do not have a budget that allows for animal control.
DogsBite.org applauds the mayor and city council of Wapato for taking a stand for citizen safety. The situation Wapato faces is indeed complex, but one that is mirrored throughout the county: violent pit bull attacks, tribal land jurisdiction issues and lack of animal control resources.
05/22/08: Flashback: Jose Basilio Attacked by a Pack of Pit Bulls
01/29/08: Savage Dog Attack in Lower Valley Injures Man