By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
A North Delridge woman is recovering from being bitten in the face by a dog in her neighborhood near Cottage Grove Park that sent her to the hospital and left neighbors concerned about whether Seattle Animal Shelter investigators are doing enough about it.
We’ve been gathering information about this incident since hearing about it from a neighbor, who said the attack happened Monday night, and that the dog, which she described as a pit bull, was on a leash with its owner. She was upset that the SAS officer talked with the owner “and then left without taking the dog.”
We have spoken twice since then with SAS representatives, who tell us there is no rule that they immediately seize an animal that bites a person. The first officer with whom we spoke said usually those types of attacks result in a citation, but he did not know if a citation had been issued and said he would seek that information; we finally got an update Saturday from SAS enforcement supervisor Ann Graves, who said no citation had been issued but the investigation was continuing and she expected to receive the final report soon.
The victim, who does not want to be identified, talked with us by phone.
She told WSB she was familiar with the dog and had seen it around. She was petting it and then turning to leave when, she said, it came after her, knocked her down, clamped onto her cheek, and did not let go till its owner pried its jaws off her face. The owner also yelled at the dog, she said, but did not say anything to her, and left.
The Seattle Fire Department confirms that an aid call was logged to the 5000 block of 26th SW about 5 pm Monday regarding a report of “a woman in her 60s who reported being bitten in the face by a dog. When firefighters arrived they found her alert, oriented, and conscious with wounds to her face. After firefighters evaluated and treated the patient, AMR transported the woman to Virginia Mason in stable condition.”
While the victim did not elaborate on her injury, her neighbor says it left her with 15 stitches on the right side of her face and a complication that sent her back to the hospital.
Both SFD and the victim say police responded to the scene; the victim says an officer told her SAS would take it from there.
When we talked with the victim Thursday afternoon, she said SAS had been back out earlier that day to talk with her, and that the officer told her the dog is now on “in-house quarantine.” She told us her biggest concern is about small children on the block, and whether they are in danger of being attacked by the dog.
During our conversation with SAS’s Graves on Saturday, she explained that the in-house quarantine, for 10 days, is not punitive, but rather is intended to determine if the dog is rabid. It’s not allowed to be out unsupervised, or off-leash, but it is allowed to be outside, leashed, with its owner, to relieve itself.
Graves said the final report on the incident would determine what is done about the dog. Because a human was severely injured, with a bite breaking the skin, she said, “the owner also has been notified that the dog may be deemed dangerous … if the dog remains in the city, (the owner) may be charged with a misdemeanor.”
Because of that possibility of a criminal charge, she explained, the owner was not cited on the spot. The law does say it’s unlawful for a person to permit their animal to bite a human, causing severe injury, she confirmed.
Since neighbors cited a belief this dog had caused trouble before, we asked Graves what SAS knows about its background. Graves said she knew of “a couple leash-law complaints over the past several years” including “one citation issued for violation of the leash law in a park,” but that it had “no history of aggression that I am aware of.” While, she said, neighbors complained that the dog is often loose, SAS records do not have any history of such reports.
Information on how to report an animal-control violation is here. The full city code regarding animals is here. We will follow up with the shelter to find out what they eventually decide about this case.