Island County’s animal control officer tracked down a man who abandoned two aggressive dogs that attacked hikers at Fort Ebey State Park on Whidbey.
Carol Barnes finally was able to catch the dogs Saturday, Dec. 15, after a full-scale dog hunt in the West Beach neighborhood. Barnes was joined by park rangers, deputies, the sheriff and a specialist from the USDA Wildlife Services in the search.
Barnes said a tip from a family member later led to the Oak Harbor resident who admitted to abandoning the mutts. She said she plans to file animal cruelty and possibly other charges against the man.
According to Barnes, the man and his fiancee said they felt they had to get rid of the dogs because they were aggressive and they were worried about the safety of their baby. The German shepherd/pitbull mixes are litter mates.
The dogs attacked a senior citizen who lived next door to them prior to being abandoned. Barnes said they were on leashes, but pulled away and bit the man several times.
In addition, the male dog had injured the couple’s newborn by placing his paw on the baby’s chest in a dominance display, causing bruising and other injuries.
The man told animal control that he had planned to have the dogs euthanized, but couldn’t bring himself to do it. Instead, the couple loaded up the dogs into a vehicle, drove to Fort Ebey State Park and left them and a bag full of Purina dog food just before midnight on Monday, Dec. 10.
“He said he peeled the parking lot and didn’t look back,” Barnes said.
The next day, the dogs attacked two hikers on a trail in the park, prompting park rangers to close the area. One of the hikers had to get stitches for a bite wound. The dogs were also aggressive toward park rangers.
Barnes said there was no indication that the dogs had been mistreated before they were abandoned, though the owner admitted he never provided them with training. “They are very reactive and very unpredictable,” she said.
The dogs were released to the owner Dec. 23. Barnes said the owner chose to have them euthanized.