Reader report: Dog bites man, owner bolts scene

This one came in just before our Friday afternoon visit to the Southwest Precinct, where we verified a police report is filed in the case. Here’s the e-mail from Chris:

I was attacked by a German Shepherd dog yesterday while taking my walk at Lincoln Park (West Seattle) at about 5:45 pm. It happened at the South Side near the Gas station. The dog was not leashed and it came attacking me from my left.

Man, it sure was a powerful dog and brought me down. I am 5ft 9in and 170 lb. I was lying on the sidewalk and could see his white teeth coming at me again and finally the owner came and pulled his dog away.

I got punctured bites on my left calf and thank God the doc said I have my shots updated.

What pisses me off is this:

I asked the owner for help and asking him for his name/info and he said he was getting the dog to his car and promised to come back. He did not come back. I wanted to take his picture on my cell but he ran away and drove off. He is a White (dark skin), crew cut, 5 ft 10’, quite built, no glasses, drove an older Honda or Toyota hatchback.

The police said chances that he lives nearby and not many people own a German Shepherd.

A lady saw him driving away too.

If I had not worn a thick sweat pants, my left calf would be gone!!!

Anyway, you dog lovers, I know most of you are responsible but this one got away!!

The police have an open case on this so if you have any tips, call the non-emergency line @ 625-5011.

24 Replies to "Reader report: Dog bites man, owner bolts scene"

  • Rhonda Porter February 15, 2008 (6:01 pm)

    I hope the owner of the German Shepard reads this and contacts the victem. Hopefully it was a weak moment for his better judgment.

  • kristing February 15, 2008 (6:27 pm)

    While I am certainly sorry that this happened to you, I do thank you for recognizing that MOST dog owners are resposnible. I will definately keep my eyes out for this guy and his unleashed Cujo.

  • Bernicki February 15, 2008 (8:22 pm)

    I see people walking in my neighborhood with their dogs off leash, and I want to scream. I don’t care how certain you are that your dog would “never hurt a fly.” When your dog leaves your yard, it needs to be on a leash.

  • miws February 15, 2008 (9:35 pm)

    Good luck in continuing to heal, Chris.


    And yes, as Bernicki said about leash laws, this is precisely why we have them. I’m an animal lover, so it’s not like I’m anti dog or anything, but fer chrissake peoples, when the law says you’r dog must be on a leash, it means YOU!!! Not just all other dog owners/walkers!


    And how are you going to feel if you perfect, gentle dog bit somebody and has to be put down, as this one may very well be if caught. So much for your loyalty and love to a living thing that will most likely give you unconditional love, devotion and protection no matter what you are like, even if you smell bad, unless you are physically abusive to your dog.


    I’d personally like to see, unless it’s been confirmed that the dogs in these cases are truly vicious, beyond what normal treatment could correct, be permanently taken away from the owner, be retrained to fit back into society and move in to a loving, happy home.


    If the owner truly loves the dog, he/she deserves to feel that loss, after being so arrogant as to think they were above the law, and the dog dseserves to live in a happy loving home.

  • A February 15, 2008 (9:46 pm)

    MOST dog owners are NOT responsible! There is dog sh*t everywhere! Clean it up people! And keep them leashed! I was on a walk with my son the other day and an unleashed dog scared us and we turned back and headed home a different way. It may have lived at the house it was in front of but it wasn’t leashed and didn’t look overly friendly. I wasn’t about to take a chance with my 22 month old son.

  • A.M. February 16, 2008 (5:53 am)

    How about all the dog owners that let their dogs run loose every weekend morning on Alki beach? Where are the police to write the citations? The dogs are running in the sand and urinating, leaving droppings and the owners are walking way behind sipping their coffee.

  • k February 16, 2008 (9:44 am)

    my only comment about this will pertain to those who have taken this to the level of dog droppings and not the original meaning of the post. cats leave their waste in yards all over this city. it is disgusting. there are no laws against unleashed cats. they also leave dead animals everywhere. they killed an entire nest of birds in our yard last year. now back to the ORIGINAL reason for the post. i am so sorry to hear of this attack and the owner of that pet needs to be ticketed at the very least. heal well! take care.

  • Jack Loblaw February 16, 2008 (9:55 am)

    Regarding “MOST dog owners are NOT responsible! ” from A: What type of hard science do you have to back up your blanket statement ? We are responsible dog owners. When we walk our dogs they are on leashes. We carry baggies to clean up after them and also carry a large can of pepper spray to protect ourselves and our dogs from unleashed dogs. We have used the pepper spray 2 or 3 times on unleashed dogs that were attempting an unprovoked attack. It works really well. We live in a city and you must always be on guard when walking – anyone who thinks differently is foolish. We are sorry to hear about the dog attack and hope that the victim recovers quickly.

  • Creighton February 16, 2008 (11:14 am)

    Keeping your dog on a leash might be what saves your beloved dog from itself and us. I have a rather large (fat?) and equally as fun and friendly Rottweiler that I religiously keep on leash in public. He’s leashed not because he’s mean, but because he’s very powerful. If another dog were to be off leash and aggressively charge him my bet would be he’d respond and bite back. His bites, being a Rottweiler , will probably do more damage than most other dogs because of his strength. So, if that German Shepard is off leash and charges my leashed dog, it might be quite the learning experience for you and your dog. Sadly it might be one heck of an unfortunate vet bill too. This isn’t a threat, that’s ridiculous and malicious, it’s a warning to keep your dog safe, keep every one else safe and use a leash and take the responsibility of your animal and yourself into your own hands. Now if you’ll excuse me, my lovable and leashed dog needs a belly rub.

  • LA in the Junction February 16, 2008 (2:06 pm)

    I’m with Creighton. My large dog is 100% on-leash EVERY time we leave the house (and I ALWAYS pick up after her…every time). But if your unleashed dog runs up and charges her, she’s going to go into smack-down mode and your dog will be lucky to get away. Also not a threat, just a reality. And it’s not going to be her fault. I actually cross the street and walk away from unleashed dogs, but the problem with them being OFF leash is that they’ll run and follow us with their owner calling vainly from behind. Too little, too late.

    There are lash laws to protect everyone, and my heart goes out to Chris. I walk at Lincoln Park regularly so if I see this man and his dog, you bet I’ll call the police.

  • Bob February 16, 2008 (5:38 pm)

    Here’s a caution for dog spotters. According to the CDC, 79% of the fatal dog attacks on people in the US from 1979-1998 were by just seven breeds of dogs, among attacks where the breed was known:

    1. Pit bull – 76 fatal attacks
    2. Rottweiler – 44
    3. German Shepherd – 27
    4. Husky – 21
    5. Malamute – 15
    6. Wolf-dog hybrid – 14
    7. Doberman – 12

  • Alki Res. February 16, 2008 (6:30 pm)

    here is an old saying… “Dog bites man, not news, Man bites dog, that’s news. To bad he didn’t get to bite the owner as well!!!!

  • Gatewood Resident February 16, 2008 (10:31 pm)

    Tragic to have happened…and simply prevented by leashing up the dog the moment it left the car/house. I walk my dog, with my young daughter, at LP regularly. I’d say about 30% of the time, the dogs passing us are unleashed. When a strange OFF LEASH dog approaches my daughter, she’s naturally afraid and I pick her up. The owners, very predictably, try to console by preaching “he won’t hurt you” or “it won’t bite you”. I could just bonk these folks on the head!!! As if, it’s all about THEM and their unleased DOGS!! I’m sorry, but your dogs are not the priority here. For Pete’s sake, many kids and adults don’t feel safe with strange dogs wandering unleashed. UNLEASED DOGS CREATE MORE CONTROVERSY AND NEGATIVE VIEWS ABOUT DOGS IN GENERAL. Besides, at Lincoln Park, you’re breaking the friggin’ law when you leave your leash hanging around your neck instead of attached to your dog.

  • carraig na splinkeen February 17, 2008 (7:16 am)

    Thank you, Gatewood Resident, I couldn’t agree more, and it’s sure not just at LP–it’s also at Alki Beach and more irritatingly, the school playfields (I won’t even go into how many dog owners don’t clean up after their dogs on the school grounds–grrrrr). It’s infuriating to be yelled at from a pretty major distance when a strange dog runs up to you/your child “don’t worry [it] won’t hurt you.” I love dogs for the most part and want my kid to, too, but owners need to keep their dogs on a leash and one more thing, remember to retract those leashes when people are walking past you, I’ve seen so many people get tripped having to walk over the leash when it’s let out.

  • 3 dogs later February 17, 2008 (11:12 am)

    Regarding Bob’s Post..on fatal dog attacksfrom 1979-1998 IT’S 2008 Bob don’t you think the numbers have changed over time? For the record I am a “Responsible” Dog owner who walks 3 on a leash for all of you irresponsible dog owners who don’t obey the law which is in place for safety purposes.. I hope someday you receive a huge fine!
    Please read this:
    The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Report on Fatal Dog Attacks…

    Overwhelmingly this report is used by the media, council members and legislators in an attempt to prove a case for passing breed specific legislation. So I feel in necessary to set the record straight on this report for all to see.

    Here are some quotes from the CDC and Doctors involved in the studies explaining how the report is INACCURATE:

    Procedure: We collected data from The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and media accounts related to dog bite attacks and fatalities, using methods from previous studies (CDC Special Report on breeds involved in fatal human attacks in the United States between 1979 and 1998, September 2000).

    Ideally, breed-specific bite rates would be calculated to compare breeds and quantify the relative dangerousness of each breed. For example, 10 fatal attacks by Breed X relative to a population of 10,000 X’s (1/1,000) implies a greater risk than 100 attacks by Breed Y relative
    to a population of 1,000,000 Y’s (0.1/1,000). Without consideration of the population sizes, Breed Y would be perceived to be the more dangerous breed on the basis of the number of fatalities. (CDC Special Report on breeds involved in fatal human attacks in the United States between 1979 and 1998, September 2000). NOTE: The CDC study does NOT use population as a factor.

    Considering only bites that resulted in fatalities, because they are more easily ascertained than nonfatal bites, the numerator of a dog breed-specific human DBRF rate requires a complete accounting of human DBRF as well as an accurate determination of the breeds involved. Numerator data may be biased for 4 reasons. First, the human DBRF reported here are likely underestimated; prior work suggests the approach we used identifies only 74% of actual cases.1,2 Second, to the extent that attacks by 1 breed are more newsworthy
    than those by other breeds, our methods may have resulted in differential ascertainment of fatalities by breed. Third, because identification of a dog’s breed may be subjective (even experts may disagree on the breed of a particular dog), DBRF may be differentially ascribed to breeds with a reputation for aggression. Fourth, it is not clear how to count attacks by crossbred dogs. Ignoring these data underestimates breed involvement (29% of attacking dogs were crossbred dogs), whereas including them permits a single dog to be counted more than once. (CDC Special Report on breeds involved in fatal human attacks in the United States between 1979 and 1998, September 2000)

    Finally, it is imperative to keep in mind that even if breed-specific bite rates could be accurately calculated, they do not factor in owner related issues. For example, less responsible owners or owners who want to foster aggression in their dogs may be drawn differentially to certain breeds. (CDC Special Report on breeds involved in fatal human attacks in the United States between 1979 and 1998, September 2000)

    (after 1998, the CDC stopped tracking which breeds of dogs are involved in fatal attacks; according to a CDC spokesperson, that information is no longer considered to be of discernable value) (Pit Bulls in the City, Indy Tails July 2005)

    “There are enormous difficulties in collecting dog bite data,” Dr. Gilchrist said. She explained that no centralized reporting system for dog bites exists, and incidents are typically relayed to a number of entities, such as the police, veterinarians, animal control, and emergency rooms, making meaningful analysis nearly impossible. (CDC releases epidemiologic survey of dog bites in 2001, September 2003)

    When multiple dogs of the same breed were involved in the same fatal episode, that breed was counted only once (eg, if 10 Akitas attacked and killed a person, that breed was counted once rather than 10 times). When crossbred dogs were involved in a fatality, each suspected breed in the dog’s lineage was counted once for that episode. Second, we tallied data by dog. When multiple dogs of the same breed were involved in a single incident, each
    dog was counted individually. We allocated crossbred dogs into separate breeds and counted them similarly (eg, if 3 Great Dane-Rottweiler crossbreeds attacked a person, Great Dane was counted 3 times under crossbred, and Rottweiler was counted 3 times under crossbred). Data are presented separately for dogs identified as pure- and crossbred. (CDC Special Report on breeds involved in fatal human attacks in the United States between 1979 and 1998, September 2000)

    Here are some quotes from the CDC and Doctors involved in the studies concerning Breed Specific Legislation:

    When a specific breed of dog has been selected for stringent control, 2 constitutional questions concerning dog owners’ fourteenth amendment rights have been raised: first, because all types of dogs may inflict injury to people and property, ordinances addressing only 1 breed of dog are argued to be underinclusive and, therefore, violate owners’ equal protection rights; and second, because identification of a dog’s breed with the certainty necessary to impose sanctions on the dog’s owner is prohibitively difficult, such ordinances have been argued as unconstitutionally vague, and, therefore, violate due process.

    Another concern is that a ban on a specific breed might cause people who want a dangerous dog to simply turn to another breed for the same qualities they sought in the original dog (eg, large size, aggression easily fostered). Breed-specific legislation does not
    address the fact that a dog of any breed can become
    dangerous when bred or trained to be aggressive.

    Other risk factors included dogs who roamed the neighborhood or dogs who were tethered. In other words, it appeared that the negligence of human guardians was a higher risk factor than the breed of the dog. learned breed-specific legislation is not the way to tackle the issue of dog bites,” said Dr. Julie Gilchrist of the CDC Injury Center in Atlanta, Georgia. “Instead, we should look at the people with those dogs responsible for the bites.” (Pit Bulls in the City, Indy Tails July 2005)

    A couple of my personal comments on the CDC report and others like it on why they are fictional at best!

    On the CDC report they have broken it down into a couple of sections, Purebred and Crossbred. Under Purebred they list “Pit bull-type” dog, this is NOT a Purebred dog? They use that very same header under Crossbred which invalidates this report.

    Using a term like “pit bull-type” would indicate that any number of breeds (as there are 20+ that are mistaken as pit bulls) and mixed breeds could have been grouped under these counts.

    As for Crossbred or mixed breed dogs it is my opinion that they need to all be grouped under “mixed breed”. When it comes to mixed breed dogs, it’s virtually impossible to determine the breeds. If in fact you do know specificly what breeds the dog is (which is rare) how would one know which “breed” did the biting?

    In the first bullet point they admit to using, “media accounts”. That alone tells us this report is nothing more than a waste of paper. The media is certainly NOT a place to gather information for a statistical study. There are many incidents that are reported as X then turn out to be Y. Many cases of mistaken breed identity or out right lies. Here are a few:

    Furthmore, this report was a collaboration of the CDC and the AVMA both of which are against breed specific legislation!

  • Bob February 17, 2008 (1:03 pm)

    There’s been a huge increase in the popularity of Rottweilers in the US in recent times. The reason is that these dogs have been been bred for attack aggressiveness, and that’s exactly what many of their owners wanted when they bought them.
    Historically in Britain pit bulls were, in part, bred for fighting and killing in the ring. And there still are people breeding them for viciousness today.
    The majority of problems in the CDC report came from those two breeds. And they aren’t among the most popular breeds, either. So, yes, there is a reason to look critically at specific breeds of dogs.
    The CDC data for wolf-dog hybrids confirms this as well. Those dogs are almost vanishingly rare, but accounted for quite a few of the fatal attacks on humans, lots more than almost any of the widespread breeds that number in the millions.

  • Bob February 17, 2008 (4:41 pm)

    Let’s try to put this in focus “per dog capita,” as 3 Dogs Later suggested.
    Golden retrievers are the second most popular purebred dog in Seattle, after Labradors. And they’re big dogs, too. They can weigh as much as Rottweilers. But for centuries they’ve been bred to carry birds gently in their mouths.
    I guess you could somehow find a way to abuse one so much that it might bite and clamp its jaws on a person like a pit bull and try to kill them. But Goldens weren’t on the CDC list at all.
    Labradors were, with 8 attacks, but they’re also the most popular dog in the country. Let’s say that pit bulls are 10% as popular as Labradors (and I doubt pit bulls are that common). Pit bulls killed 10 times more people. That means that pit bulls are on the order of 100 times more likely, per dog capita, to bite someone to death.
    I know you don’t want to admit that, as a dog lover who wants to love all breeds equally, but there it is. That’s a pretty spectacular difference between breeds.

  • A February 17, 2008 (7:24 pm)

    Good for you Jack Loblaw for leashing your dog and picking up it’s sh*t but I say you are a minority! I hate walking around (not just in parks and on grass) and having to look down the entire time so I don’t step in dog sh*t! Give me a break! It’s EVERYWHERE! My neighbor spotted some lady letting her dog crap right on our bush in front of our house this weekend. When she saw she was being watched she took a flyer from our post out front (home is for sale) and picked it up. I can’t wait to see her try this again.

  • m February 18, 2008 (1:01 pm)

    Hah! No wonder there’s a ‘Seattle Freeze’. Everyone is looking down while walking around so they can avoid stepping in dog crap and can’t look up to smile or say hi to anyone passing by.

  • Bob February 23, 2008 (2:06 am)

    Some more information about dog bites is available at
    It’s from Merritt Clifton’s study of dog bites, the complete text of which is at
    The site also gives some signs to beware of –
    “Dog Attack Danger Scale:
    Many of the recent maulings and killings involved the following factors. The presence of two or more of them is to be avoided:
    * More than one dog in their own yard, and no master present. …
    * Pit bull, Rottweiler, Akita or Chow. Where death is the result, the dog is most often a pit bull or a Rottweiler. The two other breeds that Attorney Kenneth Phillips sees most in his law practice are Akitas and Chows.
    * The pack mentality. 3 dogs are worse than 2, 4 are worse than 3, etc. It is well established that docile dogs often become uncharacteristically violent and vicious when they are in a pack.
    * Chained or tethered. Chained dogs become dangerous.
    * Male. Male dogs are several times more dangerous than female dogs.”

  • Families Against Breed Bans March 26, 2008 (9:01 am)

    I am sorry for the man who had the horrible encounter with the german shepherd and even more horrified that the negligent owner did not offer to pay for his medical bills! But again it all comes down to the necessity of leash laws!

    I must respond to A’s comment “MOST dog owners are NOT responsible!” This is a huge blanket statement and definitely not based on facts, but you know what, there have certainly been some days where I definitely could have agreed with her/his comment. People often comment on bad pitbulls roaming the streets, but I have never met one and have only met pitbull owners who were acting responsibly, while I have met numerous dog owners who assume 1) that everyone likes their dogs and wants their dogs coming up to them 2) that if the dog is not a pitbull (or any of the targeted breeds GS, Rotti, Doberman, Akita, etc) then a dog acting aggressively should not be a concern to the public. This really needs to be addressed with tougher penalities for any irresponsible dog owner.

    I own 2 pitbull type dogs and have become thick skinned enough that I can ignore judgemental looks by some ignorant people, and can even deal with some people picking up their dogs while I walk by them – often while their dogs are causing quite a scene. That said, I am out running with my dogs every day for 1.5hrs and they are always well behaved and ON LEASH and the majority of responses I get about my dogs are extremely positive. But I will never get over the fact that on one weekend (Ravenna neighborhood) my dogs and I were confronted by 5 aggressive (unrestrained) dogs walking with their unconcerned owners. I am tired of these irresponsible people who often call out that their dogs are friendly as their dogs are bolting towards us with teeth bared. These dog owners need to obey the leash laws because I am tired of having to walk my dogs while trying to avoid negative confrontations with aggressive dogs (all breeds). At one point I did contemplated buying pepper spray to protect myself and my dogs from unwanted advances by other peoples dogs, and I may still do so, especially with the warmer weather coming our way!

  • Faith March 26, 2008 (9:22 am)

    Bob: If you are going to use quotes from any sources you may want to use websites that actually know what they are talking about – is definitely not one of them. More than anything they are a hate campaign biased against certain breeds, so any information they offer cannot be accurate or be taken too seriously.

    “Pit bulls are protective dogs, but they are also as likely to attack a family member as they are a stranger”. (

    Just more propaganda! This statement is just one of the many false claims this site makes. Pitbulls are not protective dogs and are actually too people friendly to make good guard dogs.

  • jodi December 5, 2008 (10:09 am)

    Thank you, 3 dogs later, for your comments on the ridiculously biased dog-bite statistics that are quoted and misquoted far too often. We have brains, people – use yours. I am a very responsible dog owner of a big goofy (and powerful) irish staffordshire bull terrier who is often mistaken for a pit. Like ALL dogs, she acts like a dog. The larger responsibility of bully-breed owners (like pit bull owners) is understanding the breed – and knowing your dog. It is the bite power of the breed specifically – and the “status” image of the breed for many “defensive” owners who leave this incredibly intelligent and curious, highly energetic, extremely sensitive, emotional creature locked in confined spaces, or worse abused and tormented to encourage “attack” behavior – that should be crucified and held accountable in the media. Bull terriers, rotweilers, dobermans, german shepherds, etc. are very powerful animals. So are horses, cattle, lamas, emu, tigers, elephants, cougars, wolves and others. Animals live within our communities with great care and responsibility. So do we. Injury and destruction occur when this care is not taken. “Respect for others. Respect for self. Responsibility for all your actions” – that’s my motto. And my dog is always leashed in public and taught to respect others. All we ask in return is the same from you.

  • jodi December 5, 2008 (10:15 am)

    and by the way… the few times my dog has been attacked by unattended dogs, they were smaller dogs (airedale, cocker spaniel-mix, etc) that charged and attacked her. Smaller dogs are just as unpredictable as larger dogs if they are not properly taught respect and boundaries – they just don’t bite as hard (not to say their damage is potentially as horrific). My dog has EVERY right to defend herself when attacked. This has happened 3 times. And my 75lb solid muscle dog with the bully breed bite strength has been the one who comes away with scratches and bites (one on her eyelid – she could have lost her eye). Not once has she left a mark on another dog. All she wants is for them to back the f*** off. Don’t judge a dog by its breed. Judge the dog by its owner’s character if you must judge at all.

Sorry, comment time is over.