Pit bulls face death after attacking Federal Way teen

At least three of five pit bulls that simultaneously attacked a 13-year-old boy could be euthanized if nobody claims ownership of them soon.

Federal Way police responded to the animal complaint at 5:55 p.m. Sept. 29 in the 2500 block of Southwest 334th Street. When an officer arrived, the teen was seen lying on the ground with the five dogs biting him and tugging on his clothing, according to deputy police chief Andy Hwang. The teenager did not suffer serious injuries. Police believe the dogs were all enclosed behind a fence when the teen, and possibly other children, released and antagonized the animals, police spokeswoman Cathy Schrock said.

The pack of dogs fled when the officer neared the scene, but were located soon after. They surrounded the officer, who fired shots. One dog was fatally injured and two were wounded.

Within a day's time, all four surviving dogs were taken to the Humane Society of Tacoma and Pierce County. The two injured dogs and a third dog were taken there immediately following the incident. A fourth dog was found in a yard in the neighborhood the next morning. The owner of the home did not claim the dog.

Under watch

The dogs are in quarantine at the humane society until Oct. 14. If nobody claims ownership of them before that time, they will be euthanized. Due to their involvement in the attack, they do not qualify for adoption.

One man has said he owns one of the dogs. He has also said he is unsure if he owns a second pit bull, Schrock said. Owners of the remaining animals have not come forward. The known owner is paying $20 a day for the one dog he has claimed, and will resume custody of the animal when it is released, Schrock said. At that time, the dog will be subject to Federal Way's dangerous dog ordinance.

"(Given) the fact that the dog caused severe injury, we must take action in respect to the dog," she said.

The pit bull must not reoffend within five years. Other provisions, such as requiring a higher fence to shield the dog from the public, could be required. If the animal violates the ordinance within five years, or is convicted of three animal complaints, the city may ask the owner to locate the pet outside city limits. If that is not done, the city could take the canine from its owner and either adopt it out or euthanize it.

Legal ramifications

Police are not currently considering criminal charges or a civil infraction against the man who has claimed ownership of the one dog, Schrock said. Evidence suggests the animals were fenced prior to the incident, so there was no negligence on behalf of the owner, she said.

"We have witness accounts that clearly indicate the children let the dogs out," Schrock said.

According to witnesses, the dogs were seen roaming free in the neighborhood prior to the Sept. 29 incident. One witness told police he or she saw the pit bulls loose in the neighborhood on that day, rounded the dogs up and put them in the fenced area from which they were released. The witness said the owner of the home where the dogs were kept was known to own at least one of the pit bulls, Schrock said.

If police discover more than three of the pit bulls are owned by any one individual, there could be legal ramifications. Per Federal Way law, a resident may own up to three unlicensed dogs. A special hobby license is needed to own more than three dogs, Schrock said. If a person is breeding dogs, that person must hold a business license as well. Anyone violating these rules could be subject to a civil infraction.


Since Federal Way launched its own animal services department July 1, there have been 13 reports of dog bites, Hwang said. Of those, three of the incidents involved pit bulls. The city does not restrict what dogs may be kept inside city limits.

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