Dog Attacked After Owner Died
Portland, OR - The story of Jennifer Scott and the repeat biter that attacked her, Buddha, is not a simple one to tell. Before Buddha attacked Scott (and two other people that tried to help), his owner had died of a heart attack. As the article puts it, "the dog’s owner had no way of stopping him because he was dead." While this is a highly unusual scenario, it left the victim with a bleak reality: Who will pay the medical and economic bills that stemmed from the attack?
"Animal control officers found Buddah sitting by his [dead] owner's side when they went into his house. Police said that just minutes earlier, Buddah attacked Jen Scott, 26, as she came out of her home near SE 70th and Flavel. Two other people tried to help Scott, including neighbor Justina Carrillo, who said Buddah attacked her and the other person as well. Carrillo called 9-1-1 and said when Buddah started to attack, "he just stood up on his hind legs and just ripped her by the arm. [He] took [Scott] right down to the ground..."
As we reported in an earlier blog post, Buddha had previously sent two victims to the hospital in attacks in 2005 and 2006. It is unknown if additional people were also bitten in these attacks that did not receive hospital care. From this dog's bite record, we can rule out that Buddha chose to attack Scott just because it was having an "emotionally" bad day. The animal had a history of attacks, and it appears at least one of them was a "level 4" (an aggressive bite while at large).
Multnomah County Dog Law
The county dog ordinance allows for the "declassification" of dangerous dogs (Level 3, Level 4 and "dangerous") after a bare minimum of requirements are met, none of which appear to mandate liability insurance. This declassification rule seems questionable. After two years "free of incident," a dog can shed it's declaration, particularly a Level 4 or "dangerous" declaration. Yet this only partly explains why the dangerous dog convictions are so abysmally low in Multnomah county.
Declassification of Dangerous Dogs
The following conditions must be met:
- Level 1 or Level 2 dogs have been classified for one year without further incident, and two years for Level 3 and Level 4 dogs; and
- There have been no violations of the specified regulations; and
- Any other condition ordered by the director or hearings officer at the time of classification, such as the completion of obedience training.
The only item that is not removed from Level 3 and Level 4 dogs, and dogs classified as "dangerous" (which is worse than Level 4) after two years free of incident is the secure enclosure. At this time, we do not know what Buddha was declared, a Level 3, Level 4 or "dangerous" dog. We also do not know if the dog was declassified in 2008 -- two years after the 2006 attack, yet prior to the attack on Jennifer Scott. Hopefully this information will be forthcoming.
12/27/08: Portland Area Attacks Continue to Stir Breed-Specific Debate
12/11/08: Coverage of Oregon Pit Bull Attacks and Statewide Debate