Investigation follows dog bites that sent West Seattle woman to hospital

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.

40 Replies to "Investigation follows dog bites that sent West Seattle woman to hospital"

  • Mike October 14, 2012 (4:55 am)

    Finally! I have known the victim for years. The side of her face is swollen. She is a petite older woman who has the teeth marks of a pit bull in her face. Why nothing has apparently been done about this is beyond belief! Neighbors have responded by bringing her food, and she uses a blender to prepare meals as she can’t chew. Normally, the West S Blog is on top of it. This should have been noted when it occurred. This represents a danger to the community.

  • WSB October 14, 2012 (5:34 am)

    The key question that we had to get answered for this story was, what was Animal Control doing about it, and did they indeed have a history with this dog? And as noted in the story, that information was not available until Ann Graves called me on Saturday. I worked on this every day this week, after getting the first heads-up later Monday night from the neighbor, who also kindly corresponded with me in subsequent days, including checking to see if the victim would be OK talking to us, and providing her number. If we don’t hear about stories as they are breaking – and we did not hear about this one; it was a low-level medic call on the 911 log – we have to track down the official information through a prescribed chain of command that is only available to media during daytime hours unless something is a major case. We do our best to be hair-trigger when we find out about things as they happen (like, at the moment the neighbor was e-mailing us, six lights/sirens police cars roared past the Delridge Library, where I was covering the North Delridge Neighborhood Council, and we finally traced it to an incident in Admiral and responded in person) – but sometimes, frustrating as it is, it takes days to get information. – TR

  • Alki Resident October 14, 2012 (7:00 am)

    The fact the dog owner didn’t even apologize to this poor woman is disgusting to me. It speaks volumes of what kind of person he is. I hope this woman will be surrounded with love and concern from her neighbors. This has to be extremely painful.

  • Mike October 14, 2012 (8:02 am)

    Sad to hear about this incident. The owner needs to be held responsible and pay for all medical costs this lady has incurred if this report is all accurate (I’m assuming it is, but if there was another reason the dog turned, then that changes things a bit).
    Send the dog here:

  • jissy October 14, 2012 (8:39 am)

    WOW, I’m going to follow-up with this one for sure…. I witnessed a bit bull attack a jogger at Delridge Park about 2 year ago & of course the owner fled with the dog. Does anyone know if they took a picture of the dog and/or owner??

    On a more serious note, my children also attend preschool in that neighborhood and go to Cottage Grove park daily for “recess”. Will make the teachers and administrators aware of this incident.

  • Death Race 2012 October 14, 2012 (9:10 am)

    There is no such this as a bad dog, just bad dog owners. Dogs, regardless of breed, do not “turn”. “The dog turned on me” are code words for “I’ve never socialized my dog or trained it properly and I have neglected over the years but I’m not going to admit that to you”. And before we jump on the pit bull bandwagon, my daughter was bitten terribly by a Jack Russell Terrier. It was leashed outside a cafe and bit her as we walked by. Besides, pit bulls typically score better on temperament test than Golden Retrievers…unless they’ve been abused or neglected (see my first point).

  • Death Race 2012 October 14, 2012 (9:33 am)

    And as an additional note, statistics show pit bulls bite more than any other breed because there are more of them than any other breed. It’s just a numbers game. Plus, let’s face it; people who make the worse pet owners are attracted to the breed for their domineering look. So again it’s the owners, not the dogs who deserve the bad press. If you look at the horrible sport of dog fighting, the dog needs to move from owner to handler, fight, then go back to handler then owner never “turning” on any of them; even while wounded. Those that do get put down. A century and a half of this selective breading has created actually a pretty nice dog. Again, unless it’s poorly trained, not socoalized, neglected or abused.

  • Trigger October 14, 2012 (9:56 am)

    Wow. Seize this dog NOW, cite the owner and then euthanize the dog. Animals like this are a menace to society. The owner, too.

  • Kayo October 14, 2012 (10:18 am)

    Just to add to what happened here. The victim had a few friendly interactions with the dog prior to this incident and had (with the owner’s permission – dog was on leash) come over to pet the dog in this incident. After a friendly interaction of about 5 minutes, she went to say goodbye and pet the dog (again with owner’s permission) and that is when the dog lunged and bit her (and would not let go). I am not a dog psychologist. I don’t know what could trigger such a sudden change from friendly to deadly. Regardless, it indicates a level of dangerously unpredictable behavior that is disturbing. The owner’s reaction (once he pried the victim’s face out of the dog’s mouth) was to kick the dog and yell bad dog. Again, he then fled the scene leaving this woman bleeding and in shock. Isn’t that the equivalent to a drive by or hit and run? If the dog never acted this way before and he hadn’t run away, I could have some empathy for the owner, but because of that I have none. The dog needs to be removed whether going to a sanctuary or put to sleep. It is unsafe and the owner is not to be trusted to do the right thing here. Take the dog away. And yes, pit bulls can be very nice dogs. I love dogs. The victim in this case loves dogs. It is not about a bad breed in this case. It is about one particular animal who is dangerous.

  • Cole October 14, 2012 (10:34 am)

    It’s a tragedy any time someone is bitten by a pet. It’s also a shame when an owner doesn’t take responsibility for their pet particularly in such a horrible attack such as this. Not apologizing, for whatever reason, is socially unacceptable and shows great lack of character.

    While Pit bulls can be precious, loving animals, we must understand they are unique in that their facial nerves are not as sensitive as a Golden Retriever, etc. This is one of the reasons they are such popular dogs in the fighting ring; they can bite and latch on to their victim while not responding to the normal physical pressures of another attack dog or a person trying to pull them. This greatly differentiates their attacks.

    While euthanizing is a last resort, a citation seems too minimal. The city should insist on proper training along with their citation within a specified time frame. Rather than banning a breed, an owner should be required to have a certificate of specific training; Obedience Training for a Aggressive Dogs, etc., prior to an attack, ie at the time of licensing.

    I hope this pet lover recovers quickly from an awful experience.

  • Concerned Neighbor October 14, 2012 (10:35 am)

    Pit bulls are aggressive and unpredictable, those are characteristics of the breed which cannot be altered by socialization. Pit bulls attack without warning because that is what they have been bred to do, in a dogfighting ring. Someone has been KILLED by a pitbull every 20 days over the past 7 years, despite pit bull breeds comprising less than 5 percent of the dog population. No other breed comes close to these dangerous statistics!

    Thanks to WSB for covering this story. Our best wishes to the victim of this painful and traumatic experience.

  • Bonnie October 14, 2012 (11:06 am)

    This is a terrible situation. I cannot believe the dog was not at least removed by Animal Control. What if it was a small child? The dog could have killed a child.

  • St Francis October 14, 2012 (12:26 pm)

    Since WSB has no problem mentioning the breed of dog, how about you mention the race of the owner?

    • WSB October 14, 2012 (12:37 pm)

      We don’t have a rule against mentioning dog breeds. Nor in mentioning descriptions of humans if someone was injured and no arrest has been made. If I had any additional descriptive information, I would have included it; unfortunately, I don’t.
      I am, however, stopping the inevitable “defend pit bulls/criticize pit bulls” discussion RIGHT HERE, seen that movie before, no further comments along those lines will be approved for publication. (Same as our policy for bicycles vs. drivers, drivers vs. bicycles.) If anybody wants to have a generic discussion, you are welcome to take it to the Forum. This story is not about the dog breed. This is about a person who was injured badly enough to require hospitalization after being bitten by a dog, and about the Seattle Animal Shelter investigation. – TR

  • anonymouse October 14, 2012 (12:38 pm)

    WSB didn’t actually say it was a pit bull. They said the neighbor described it as a pitt bull.

  • Krm66 October 14, 2012 (12:44 pm)

    St Francis- why is the victims race important? A description of the aggressive dog is good info to have, while the race of the victim is not important.

  • Service Dog Academy October 14, 2012 (1:03 pm)

    Dogs dont just bite out of the blue. There are ALWAYS warnings. Most dog bites result from under socialization. The reason WHY we have puppy classes is so we can try and PREVENT a dog from thinking kids and the elderly are scary. They walk differently and that can be enough to frighten a dog.

    Bite inhibition is something that must be taught to puppies and that teaching window closes when their puppy teeth fall out. If dogs are not taught proper bite inhibition in PUPPYHOOD through play with other dogs and mouthing behavior on humans they cannot be taught it later on.

    Unfortunately for this dog, since it bit and the human required many stitches, it will bite like that for the rest of its life which mean it will continue to be a danger the rest of its life.

    I will only take on bite cases if the dog has left indentations or bruises since I know that that dog was TAGUHT bite inhibition and will bite like that for the rest of its life.

    And for those of you railing on the pit bull thing, you are 5 TIMES MORE LIKELY TO GET HIT BY LIGHTENING THEN KILLED BY A PIT BULL. If you want some non sensational facts about the matter please read the following amazon book excerpt.

    WSB if you would like some real comments from a dog professional please feel free to contact me.

  • Service Dog Academy October 14, 2012 (1:08 pm)

    This week I will be attending the Association of Pet Dog Trainers Conference (a 6000+ dog trainer organization) where I will be receiving an award for the second year in a row.

    Once I return I think I will schedule a free class for people to attend to talk about dog body language and how to tell if a dog is afraid or uncomfortable and the importance of socialization in puppyhood. I would love it if the WSB could be there to share the information with the masses.

    Mary McNeight, CPDT-KA, CCS, BGS
    Director of Training and Behavior
    Service Dog Academy –

  • Been there October 14, 2012 (1:58 pm)

    This owner needs to take responsibility – and if he doesn’t, should be heavily punished.
    I’ve been an owner of a “bad” dog- we rescued him at 1 yr; unbenounced to us, wasnt socialized properly and was alpha. However, we spent thousands on dog trainers, owner training for us and went 1000 extra miles for this lovely dog. But he was predictably “unpredictable”. After numerous close calls and one final, scaryincident, we knew he wasn’t fit for living in society and had to make the very sad, difficult decision to put him down.
    I pray that the owner comes to his senses to realize he needs to make the right decision for society- and ultimately, his own well-being – because someone will and should sue the pants off him.

  • Carol October 14, 2012 (3:37 pm)

    This dog seems dangerously unpredicatable and the owner not appropriately responsible. I believe the dog needs to be removed to a different environment and/or euthanized. Animal Control needs to be following up on this; I am extremely disappointed that they have been so lenient with the owner. THANKS to TR/WSB for bringing us this story and following up on it.

  • Todd October 14, 2012 (3:47 pm)

    One thing is for sure, many dogs, too few animal control officers. Owners take full advantage at places leashed dogs are not legally allowed: organized athletic fields, children’s play areas, public beaches, etc. SMC 18.12.080 A.. It is out of control! Lots of bad owners out there too, like in this case.

  • E October 14, 2012 (6:26 pm)

    Seattle Animal Control really does not seem to be at all on top of things in West Seattle. Dogs roaming off leash constantly, owners who could care less about their “friendly” dogs rushing up to my toddler and scaring her out of her wits. Dog owners run the world. They all think their dog is special/perfect/ would never hurt anyone.

  • Service Dog Academy October 14, 2012 (7:16 pm)

    Sorry to hear about that Been There. Alot of dog trainers promise to cure dogs aggression / fear. As a person who has an anxiety condition I feel I have a unique understanding of what fearful dogs go through. My opinion is if we cant cure it in humans, what in the world makes dog trainers think they can CURE anxiety and aggression in dogs?

  • CJ October 14, 2012 (8:21 pm)

    I hope the woman makes a speedy recovery. The fact the owner of this dog kicked him after the incident tells me what kind of environment this dog has endured in his life. An abused dog of any breed makes for a bad situation, whether aggressive or timid. We need to focus our anger and concern not on the abused dog but the abuser. He is the true danger to our neighbors. If this dog is taken away, he will simply acquire another and abuse it too, raising another time bomb. I hope Animal Control/law enforcement will recognize that the dog deserves a chance in a loving home or sanctuary and that the owner should be banned from pet ownership.

  • CSW October 14, 2012 (8:57 pm)

    The owner of the dog just walked away from a person on the ground that it’s do has just severly injured?? What the hell??? There was an incedent in Tukwila last week where a dog slipped out of it’s collar at a park and killed a little girls dog. The idiot with the dog that attacked, left this poor little girl and her dying dog, saying “he killed it” or something to that effect. Could this be the same dog? How can people be so horrible? 80% of the people in this country have no business own dogs. . . or having kids for that matter. There are so many ignorant, mean, warpped people on this planet, it’s just shocking. Equally as shocking is that Animal Control doesn’t seem to that this crime seriously. What are we paying them for???

  • bk October 14, 2012 (11:24 pm)

    Speedy recovery to this poor victim and that dog owner is a menace to our neighborhoods. I don’t have a friendly dog. She’s a rescue. I ALWAYS keep her on a leash in public and don’t allow anyone to pet her. I don’t allow her to play with ANY other dogs because I cannot trust her. Better to be safe than sorry. (She is the perfect house dog and keeps me safe.) I just wanted to make a side-note that all the people in WS with “friendly” dogs who allow their dogs to run off leash make our daily walks “interesting.” I yell at the owners, “Get your dog.” They smile nonchalantly and holler, “It’s okay, he’s friendly.” Well guess what, my legally leashed dog is not friendly. Think about that before letting your dog run around freely and illegally…

  • dee kalani October 15, 2012 (9:04 am)

    It seems that more and more irresponsible people are getting dogs. Animal control needs to re visit current policies, and procedures on allowing ownership. I have seen so many unwanted dogs in shelters, alot of pitbulls are discarded, over bred, mis treated etc. Laws need to be changed, people need to be held accountable.

  • Wetone October 15, 2012 (9:11 am)

    Possibility of a criminal charge ? A person was bitten . Crime was committed end of story. Owner and dog might have past issues ? Is there special treatment going on here ?

  • T-Rex October 15, 2012 (9:13 am)

    So sorry for the victim and sorry for the dog as well. The fact that his owner kicked him proves to me the dog has probably been abused.

    Too bad he doesn’t turn on his owner!

  • katie p October 15, 2012 (9:28 am)

    I own a giant, unpredictable dog. I’ve gone through special training with him to no avail. I’ve considered all my options: passing him on to a sanctuary or putting him down. I decided on a cage muzzle and now he is unable to bite people. He can pant, drink water, and eat. He is so good on so many levels and I get to enjoy him without endangering my community. It is easy, safe and relatively cheap- $25- and I wonder why the dog in this article isn’t required to be muzzled while outside relieving itself. On a side note, I think many people are quick to assume a dog is a pit bull if it scares them. Unless you know its DNA, bloodline, or see AKA paper work, there is no way to know. If a description of a dog is needed, maybe size, coat color and length would be appropriate? Even if the head is boxy and short nosed? Then readers actually know what the dog looks like.

  • katie p October 15, 2012 (9:40 am)

    P.S. I can understand that after a dog does some terrible violence to an innocent being the foremost thought of the owner may be to remove the dog to a safer location. If the dog is freaking out, even leashed, it has like a six foot radius to harm more people or animals. The owner HAS to get the dog out of there. And is probably in shock, too. I am not saying it is right to run away with out saying anything or at least giving a phone number. In this article it sounds like these are neighbors, know each other and so I find it doubtful that the dog owner left to avoid trouble. If it were me, I’d put my dog away and come back immediately to render aid…but my dog is muzzled outside, so it won’t be me.

  • Tiffany October 15, 2012 (10:36 am)

    Best Rule: Never pet a dog if you are a stranger to it.

    I am wondering exactly HOW did this dog bite her face? Why was she that close?

    As the owner of a larger dog (half husky-half boxer), I am very aware of strangers. My dog looks like a silly puppy and everyone always wants to pet him because he is so lovable. But I always place myself between a new person and my dog, just in case. Sometimes it is a person’s movements or change in behavior that trigger a dog into getting scared. My dog is more agressive towards large white dogs because a large white dog lunged at him and bit him. He now has a trigger from them. He is also scared of Pugs after a group of them chased him relentlessly at the dog park. My dog is 80 lbs….To me it may not make sense but to him they are a threat and he reacts accordingly. Perhaps he always will. He is also scared of children who are right at his eye level and I tell kids, and prevent them nicely, when they run up to him. To a dog, running towards him and placing your arms around his neck is seen as an agressive move and warrants a response. Sometimes, its not a pleasant one.

    Animals are animals, which means they will always be a bit unpredicatable. So I suggest everyone stop trying to pet dogs they do not know well, even with permission, especially if they fear whatever breed it may be.

    I wish this woman the best and I am sad to hear that she was bit and is suffering. I hope the owner will consider the dogs reaction to things and become more proactive in such situations.

    It is only as a proactive pet owner, and proactively aware pedestrian, that you avoid situations like this. I ask everyone to consider your manner and actions when interactling with any pet, large or small. It is our pet’s temperment and past experience, not always size or breed, that makes their personalities. And strangers have no way of knowing their story.

    I wish everyone the best.

  • Kristine October 15, 2012 (12:58 pm)

    I feel empathy and sympathy for the victim. But it’s the dog’s owner who should be punished, not the dog. I totally agree with Tiffany, DON’T pet dogs that you meet out on the street, in a park etc unless you know the dog well. As a dog owner I would have never allowed that situation to have happened in the first place. I think that dog would do much better in a safe, loving home…

  • datamuse October 15, 2012 (3:07 pm)

    Tiffany, what do you suggest someone do if the dog approaches them? This happens to me pretty often, usually with the owner nowhere in sight, and not having grown up around dogs I’m a bit at a loss.

  • Tiffany October 15, 2012 (3:23 pm)

    Datamuse, where are you when these dogs approach you?

    Most dogs understand no. And they can sense your feelings, so if you are instantly scared, they will know. When I have to walk by new dogs, I always use my friendly voice and say, “Hello pretty dog”. My dog takes this as a sign that there is no need to be alarmed. My voice is calm and friendly and dogs respond to that. Also, most dogs understand the word NO and GO. I realize that there is only so much defense regarding a dog on the loose and you just happen upon it. I have a tossed a few rocks nearby a dog on the loose to keep it away from me until I could get by. I never threw anything directly at it. But it was enough for the dog to understand I wasnt going to be bullied.

    There is an agressive dog in my neighborhood who lords over his front fenced-in yard. His owners let the dog snarl and bark at everything that walks along the sidewalk. It scares my dog, or makes him bark, and now I walk as close to the curb as possible, correcting my dog so that he doesnt bark in turn. But one day I was annoyed, and corrected the dog as it barked and snarled. I made a “psst” sound and said no, very firmly, and he ceased. Now I “ppsst” him every time. I also do this because I do not want my dog to learn this behavior or he will bark and snarl at everything he passes. But the action works. Perhaps it would help you when you are out walking.

  • datamuse October 15, 2012 (3:47 pm)

    Thanks, Tiffany. I didn’t mean to derail from the general discussion; this is a scary incident and I hope SAS follows up. To answer your question, usually out walking, running, or biking on the street. I’ll keep your suggestions in mind.

  • DelridgeResident October 16, 2012 (8:42 pm)

    @Been There I also euthanized my dog that was unpredictable and aggressive. I am so sorry to hear that you have also had to make such a hard decision!
    @E I would disagree that dog owners run the world and comments on this blog has shown that not every owner thinks their dog is perfect.
    @Katie P I was thinking the same thing about pit bulls and why the owner might have left.
    @Tiffany I also was wondering why the victim’s face was so close to the dog. But no matter what hope that she is recovering well!

  • Nancy F. October 17, 2012 (6:28 am)

    There are some marvelous posters about dog-person social interactions here:

    I’m having to unlearn habits of a lifetime. Like that putting a hand out to sniff is not the right approach.

  • onalong October 20, 2012 (1:43 pm)

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a dog being pet by someone to biting them the next. Curious if there is more to the story.

  • Robert October 21, 2012 (5:15 pm)

    I am a resident of a city in Western Wa whose dog (on leash) was attacked by an off-leash pit bull breed on a public street in 2010. Our dog has recouperated from her multiple puncture and rip wounds. I was injured by kicking the pit bull to separate it from our dog. The owner just stood there and yelled at his dog. A year of waiting for the owner to pay led us to file in court. A year now after the King County Small Claims court has found the pit bull owner liable for the (vet bills, lost work)damages, he still hasn’t paid. I could have asked for more, and the judge would have allowed it. I wanted to be nice to the guy, but ….see what I’ve got !
    I can only sympathize with the woman who was attacked in West Seattle, wish her the very best, hope the pit bull owner is a responsible one ( good luck on that !)I know that there are a lot of pit bull owners out there that love their dogs, as all dog owners do, but beware, the next one that attacks our dog or us, I’ll be hiring an equally vicious attorney.
    I’ve had it with the breed ( and a particular Rottweiler who attacked us previously) and their owners ! These dogs are unpredictable. Every bit of legislation that makes prospective purchasers of these known vicious animals think twice about what they’re getting themselves into…is worth it.

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