A pair of dogs that had bitten at least one person before they ran wild in Everett on Saturday, attacking five people and prompting police to warn residents to stay indoors. Everett police and animal-control officers are investigating the owner of the two dogs.
In the first attack on Saturday, officers were called to the 1300 block of Lombard Avenue around 6:30 a.m. after a 44-year-old man suffered bites to his legs and back. The victim told officers that the two dogs crossed the street and attacked him. The victim was hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries.
Police tracked down the dogs, a female pit bull and a female boxer, and witnessed one of the animals kill a cat. One officer was bitten on the leg by one of the dogs when he tried to coax the animal into the back of his patrol car. The dogs ran off when the officer used his Taser on them.
Officers soon learned of other victims of dog bites: two women, 27 and 54, and a second 44-year-old man. Investigators believe the man was bitten while he was sleeping in the 1800 block of Broadway before 6:30 a.m. Police didn’t learn about the mauling until the man went to Providence Regional Medical Center, where he complained of injuries to his feet. The 27-year-old woman was bitten after she got out of her car at work. The 54-year-old woman was attacked by the dogs while she was in her driveway. After the dogs left, the woman noticed her pants had punctures in them, but she was not injured.
While tracking the animals, officers used their patrol cars’ public-address systems to warn residents of the dangerous dogs. Police caught up with the dogs again in the 1500 block of Grand Avenue and used a taser on the pit bull. The dog died during officers’ attempts to restrain her. The second dog, the boxer, was found after she returned to her home in the 1700 block of Lombard. The boxer was impounded by Everett Animal Control for quarantine.
In August 2011, the pit bull was quarantined after she bit a boy who was skateboarding. While both dogs are believed to have been involved in that attack, it’s unclear why the boxer wasn’t quarantined. The owner was required to muzzle the dogs while they were out and to keep the dogs contained in a secure, fenced yard.
The boxer will remain in quarantine at the Everett Animal Shelter until Sept. 4, at which point the owner could give up ownership of the dog, leaving the shelter to decide whether the animal should be euthanized. If the owner chooses to keep the dog, the animal will be deemed “dangerous.” Such a designation comes with a list of stiff requirements: a $100 registration fee; a $250,000 security bond on the animal; and a mandate that the dog must be contained and that signage be posted at the home notifying people of a dangerous dog.
In Washington, an owner of a dog that bites another person is strictly liable for any injuries suffered by the victim. That means that in order to recover for injuries suffered due to a dog bite a plaintiff need only show that their injuries were caused by the dog bite and does not have to prove that the owner of the dog was negligent in any way. Generally, in order to recover for personal injuries, including those caused by another person’s pet, a plaintiff must prove negligence. However, the Washington State Legislature enacted RCW 16.08.040 which does away with the requirement for proving negligence in dog bite cases.