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Public Safety

Dillingham Dog Fight Touches Off Facebook Invective

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City says Animal Control Officer Dan Boyd was right to impound two dogs accused of a malicious attack on a lab near Cessna last week.

Dillingham has a complicated history with its Animal Control Officers, to put it mildly. But a vicious dog fight involving a pit bull, German shepherd, and a chocolate labrador in front of Cessna Drive last week has sparked an unusually harsh stream of invective on facebook. The city says the officer was correct to impound two of the dogs, whose fates have yet to be decided.

KDLG’s Dave Bendinger has more:

Audio transcript:

Last Tuesday, witnesses saw a German shepherd and a pit bull terrier roaming around Cessna Drive. The two dogs attacked a chocolate labrador that was walking up the bike path, itself roaming without its owner.

The brutal, bloody fight happened just steps from the school bus stop. One witness ran out and yelled at the dogs, startling them long enough to give the lab time to escape. Then the pit and shepherd attacked each other; two cars passing by stopped, honked and yelled at the two dogs until they broke it up and ran off.

Animal Control Officer Dan Boyd was called to the scene. He located the chocolate lab, which had suffered serious injuries to its hind legs and abdomen. Then he tracked the other two dogs to a cul-de-sac on Cessna Drive.

The pit and shepherd were in front of a house, unrestrained, their faces covered in blood. No one was home at the time. Boyd called for backup, and he and another police officer safely impounded the two dogs.

"Doing His Job."

Those dogs were taken from the same residence that Boyd had impounded a problematic rottweiler from in December. The owner says the dogs are harmless and that her family is being targeted. To publicly express her concerns, she took to the facebook trading post, a forum typically used to sell goods and make announcements.

Her posting touched off a string of comments.

"The dog catcher is rude!" wrote one poster. "I don't like the dog catcher either," said another. Those two were about as nice as it got in the usually hospitable forum.

Some of the conjecture alleges that Officer Boyd incorrectly identified the animals involved, illegally entered the premises, or has it out for the family.

City Manager Rose Loerra is well aware of the matter, and said the city stands behind its animal control officer:

"We sure do," Loerra said Monday.

"I've seen his preliminary report," she continued. "There were a number of witnesses who saw the two dogs attacking the brown dog walking on the bike path. The officers went to the resident's home, and the dogs were loose in the yard, covered in blood. They jumped unprovoked into Boyd's truck."

Thankless job.

It seems most every dog owner will have a run in with the animal control officer at some point. Most gripe a bit, pay the fine, and keep a tighter leash thereafter. In the course of making sure that stray dogs aren’t threatening other pets or pedestrians inside of city limits, Boyd catches more complaints than thank-you's, though he doesn't seem to mind.

But is he "out-to-get" anybody?

"No, he's absolutely not," said Loerra. "We've had issues in that area, a number of people have complained about the dogs there. And someone actually called him when that particular fight was going on, and so he just responded to a report."

Another facebook thread posted on the same topic called attention to Dillingham’s municipal code, which spells out an owner’s responsibility to restrain their dog. Loerra said city rules concerning dogs are pretty clear.

"Dogs shouldn't be running loose, unless they're under their owner's control. And another city ordinance says that any animal that bites a person or another animal without provocation shall be deemed 'vicious'."

Fates Uncertain.

The owner of the chocolate lab that was attacked will be cited for having an unrestrained pet.

The pit bull and the German shepherd have been quarantined for now. It’s not clear if their attack on the lab was provoked, or unprovoked. It’s also not clear if two dogs belonging to the same owner fight each other in a public place, say very near to a school bus stop, constitutes a vicious dog attack.

After Officer Boyd submits his final report, it will be up to the chief of police and the city manager to decide whether the pit and shepherd should be returned to their owner, banished from the city, or euthanized.