Latest dog shooting part of bigger Pendleton problem

Pendleton police respond to 749 dog complaints per year
Phil Wright

East Oregonian

Published on September 26, 2017 7:43PM

Last changed on September 26, 2017 9:25PM

At the end of 2016, Oregon counted 112 wolves in the state. That’s the same number of dangerous dogs Pendleton has now.

The population is likely to tick up to 113 after Pendleton police Cpl. Jon Lehman shot an aggressive dog Monday afternoon, Pendleton Police Chief Stuart Roberts said, the second time this year a Pendleton officer used fire power to stop an attacking dog.

Roberts said Lehman at 4:51 p.m. responded to the 700 block of Northwest 10th Street for several dogs running at large. He placed one dog in the back of his patrol car, then tried to herd three more into the fenced yard of their owner, who Roberts said was not home.

Lehman dealt with the trio of dogs, Roberts said, when a pit bull he had not seen charged.

“The officer kicked at the dog several times, but the dog continued to advance,” according to Roberts. “The officer believing an attack was imminent drew his firearm, and fired one shot downward at the dog.”

The bullet grazed the dog’s front leg, Roberts said, and the animal bolted. Officers found the dog a few blocks away in another yard, cornered it and looped a noose around its neck from a catch pole.

Roberts said police sent digital photos of the wound to an on-call veterinarian, who decided the injury was not severe and treatment could wait. Officers took the dog to the city pound.

Police contacted the dog’s owner, explained the circumstances to her, and cited her for dogs at large, Roberts reported.

Now the pit bill is subject to the city’s dangerous dog evaluation process.

City ordinance 3382 “gives police officers the discretionary authority to dispatch aggressive or mad dogs running at large,” Roberts stated. It defines five levels of dangerous dogs and gives the chief of police the authority to determine at what level a dog should land.

Level 1 is for dogs that are aggressive with another domestic animal, Level 2 is for dogs that threaten people. Roberts said these levels generally mean the dogs chase, menace and bark — but don’t bite.

Level 3 applies to confined dogs that bite someone. Roberts said in such cases he has to determine if someone provoked the dog.

Level 4 means the dog is at large and bites a person or another domestic animal.

Levels 1 through 4 require owners to put up warning signs about the dog, confine dogs and have them wear special orange collars.

Level 5 is for dogs that seriously injure or kill people or animals, were trained to fight or repeat bad behavior after receiving Level 4 classification. The final level deems dogs too dangerous to keep in the city, Roberts said, and owners either have to relocate or euthanize the dogs.

Pendleton police monitor 112 dangerous dogs, Roberts said. Since 2000, 175 dogs in Pendleton have been classified as dangerous, and 63 met Level 5 requirements.

The city charges $10 a year to license neutered and spayed dogs, and $20 year for unsterilized dogs. But owners of dangerous dogs pay three times that fee.

Milton-Freewater’s law requires owners to register and microchip dangerous dogs, and Hermiston also has a law to deal with dangerous dogs but does not keep a list.

Pendleton police from 2014-16 responded to 2,248 dog complaints. Roberts said reports about dogs biting people in Pendleton is a monthly occurrence.

Pendleton officer Cass Clark shot a dog in May after it latched onto his arm. Roberts said the dog survived the wound. The U.S. Postal Service in June moved mailboxes on the North Hill due to two dangerous dogs in the neighborhood. Roberts said the volume of animal complaints is one reason why the city is trying to hire an additional part-time code enforcement officer.


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