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Owner fined, but no charges in dog attacks

POULSBO — The owner of the two boxers that attacked and killed a dog in Poulsbo in February will not face criminal charges.

Kitsap County deputy prosecutor Justin Zaug said because this was a first offense — the dogs had not been declared Potentially Dangerous previous to the February attack — the owner would not be charged.

“The issue came down to, were these dogs declared Potentially Dangerous before, and they weren’t, so there wasn’t anything we could do,” Zaug said.

According to state law, if a dog, without provocation, attacks and kills a human, its owner would face criminal charges, first offense or not, and the dog would be declared Dangerous.

The boxers, estimated to be about three years old by the Kitsap Humane Society, charged at a woman walking her brother’s dog on 15th Loop off Hostmark Street about 10 p.m. Feb. 15. The boxers severely attacked the dog, a bichon frise, which later died.

When an animal control officer arrived, he opened an investigation on the boxers as Potentially Dangerous Dogs, and told the owner to keep the dogs confined to her property. Instead, the owner gave them to a friend to watch on Bainbridge Island. The dogs escaped the friend’s custody and attacked another dog and its walker the morning of Feb. 16.

“The officer may impound the animal — emphasis on ‘may,’” Animal Control officer Chase Connolly said in a previous interview. “In this case, we thought the [owner] was going to be taking responsibility … It’s very unfortunate in this circumstance, the person did not abide by animal control’s authority … to keep the animals confined to property.”

The two dogs are not in the owner’s care anymore. After the second attack, the owner, a 29-year-old woman from Poulsbo, surrendered one of the dogs. The Kitsap Humane Society acts as the county’s animal control agency, and KHS’ behavioral team determined the boxer could not be reconditioned and euthanized the dog.

A few days after the attacks, the owner returned the second boxer to its breeder in King County. Connolly said KHS has informed King County Animal Control that the dog is Potentially Dangerous.

Animal Control has the authority to issue infractions for code violations, KHS Executive Director Eric Stevens said. KHS issued an infraction against the owner for two offenses: animal at large, and damaging property. Each offense carried a $250 fine.

Debbie Fischer, the woman who was attacked on Bainbridge Island, is disappointed with the prosecutor’s office decision.

“I think it’s horrible,” she said. “The attack on me shouldn’t have happened. After the first attack, those dogs should have been sequestered and we would have never been the second victims.”

The dog in the second attack, a small poodle, has died, leaving his owner distraught, according to Fischer. She walked the poodle for her elderly friend, and said the owner most likely won’t be filing a civil suit.

Calls to the owner of the bichon frise weren’t returned.

“It’s assault, that’s what really floors me,” Fischer said. “If any human came up to you, biting or whatever, it’s assault, but if it’s an animal it’s not. More polluted thinking.”

 

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