A curious peek out his front door turned into a trip to the emergency room for Terry Moore of Sequim.
He and his wife Ann Moore had been on alert in recent weeks as their car had been “egged and soaped,” they said, so when their dog barked it piqued Terry’s interest.
He stopped working in the north end of his house near downtown Sequim around 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 23, to look around.
“I got a few two feet out the door and I got three pit bulls running right at me,” he said. “One grabbed one arm and another grabbed a sleeve. I was able to get back into the house. I had to slam the door on a dog’s head.”
Sequim Police confirmed Terry was treated at Olympic Medical Center where Terry said he got eight stitches in his left arm.
Ann said because the dogs weren’t up to date on their rabies shots, Terry opted to have rabies shots despite being told by health officials that Clallam County there hasn’t seen a case of rabies for about 50 years.
“It takes away your peace of mind,” Ann said about the attack.
“The dogs were in pack mode and what is very frightening is at first we were angry but then we realized how lucky Terry was to have saved himself.”
The couple said they live near the Olympic Discovery Trail and see a lot of people come by daily.
“If it hadn’t been Terry and someone walking by the outcome would have been horrific,” Ann said.
“They wouldn’t have had any way to protect themselves. We are so thankful he was able to save himself.”
The three dogs were detained nearly two days after the incident on Monday, Sept. 25, and put into a 10-day quarantine for rabies inspection at Olympic Peninsula Humane Society, said Sgt. Dave Campbell with Sequim Police Department.
He said the case was still under investigation and more information will become available after the quarantine period.
Sequim’s Animal Control Officer Lisa Hopper said that Sequim currently doesn’t have any dogs deemed “dangerous” and in her tenure she’s never declared a dog as such for attacking a human or other animal.
Hopper said she has declared one dog that lived outside of city limits as dangerous after it came into the city and attacked again after already being declared “potentially dangerous.”
Under the city’s ordinance, Hopper can declare a dog “potentially dangerous” for a few reasons such as if it inflicts a bite that penetrates the skin on a human or domestic animal unprovoked, and/or if it chases or threatens a person in a menacing fashion or apparent attitude of attack when unprovoked.
This excludes trespassers on the dog’s owner’s property, individuals who may have been abusing the dog, and those committing or attempting a crime.
Dogs are declared “dangerous” for a few reasons such as if they inflict severe injury on a human without provocation, kill a domestic animal or livestock, and/or were previously found “potentially dangerous” and showed the same issues before.
Dogs declared “potentially dangerous” and “dangerous” in other jurisdictions would carry over to the city too under Sequim’s ordinance if the owner moved into the city.
The Moores said the dogs have been known to be loose before but were unaware if they had attacked anyone.
She and Campbell wouldn’t comment further on the case while it’s under investigation including who owns the dogs.
Coincidentally, City Councilors saw their first look at an update of the city’s “Potentially Dangerous and Dangerous Dogs” ordinance from 1999 on Sept. 25.
City Attorney Kristina Nelson-Gross said the proposed update follows state guidelines but gives the city some leeway with how to handle “dangerous dogs.”
“All state law says is we’re not required to have them in our city,” she said. “Do you want these dogs in city limits?”
In the proposal, “dangerous dogs” wouldn’t be allowed in the city after Jan. 1, 2018.
Owners of dogs declared “dangerous” would need to have their dogs humanely euthanized, sent to a secure animal shelter paid for by the owner, or removed from city limits and held in compliance with state law.
Dogs declared “dangerous” between now and Dec. 31, would be allowed under the ordinance so long as they remain restrained and sheltered but Hopper would be allowed to seize a “dangerous dog” if found off property without restraints.
“We want to protect the public from dangerous dogs,” Nelson-Gross said.
After reading the proposed update, City Councilor Bob Lake said the rule is a “two-bite rule.”
“Dangerous dogs have to go through a rigorous process to get that designation,” she said.
“If a dog attacks another person or animal the initial jump is not to dangerous. They go to district court judge and get a declaration of a ‘potentially dangerous’ dog. If the potentially dangerous dog attacks again, it goes through the process, and goes back to the court. The judge makes a declaration of whether or not it’s a dangerous dog.”
Also included in the proposal is a bump in requiring “dangerous dog” owners to have liability insurance for their dogs from $50,000-$250,000.
Nelson-Gross said the ordinance wouldn’t apply in the Sequim Dog Park.
“The city doesn’t want to be in the business of refereeing a civil dispute,” she said.
Hopper added that there is signage on site that says “enter at your own risk.”
City staff plan to add signage that the “dangerous dog” policy doesn’t apply in the park.
After learning of the proposed code update, Ann Moore said she’d suggest the policy require “dangerous dog” owners be required to show their dogs are up to date on rabies shots, and they are not allowed to have lifetime licenses.
City councilors agreed to hold a public hearing on the proposed policy update tentatively on Monday, Oct. 23, at the Sequim Civic Center, 152 W. Cedar St.
Contact the City of Sequim at 360-683-3311 or visit www.sequimwa.gov.