Monday Apr 07 2008
No solid leads in pit bull attack case
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
Owner, dog escaped after horse was injured
Still without a license plate number of the fleeing dog owner in a pit bull attack that injured a horse last Thursday, state Parks and Recreation Department officials are having no luck corralling the canine. The attack took place on an Auburn State Recreation Area trail about 4 miles east of Auburn. Horse rider Odette Parker was uninjured but her 916-pound Morgan-Arabian was bitten several times and chased in what she said was an unprovoked attack by an unleashed dog. Parker had expected the owner to return and didn't get the license plate number on what she described as a silver SUV. He was seen finding and picking up the pit bull but didn't return to help. Recreation area Superintendent Jay Galloway said Monday that the information provided by Parker and another rider was pretty sketchy and the investigation had no solid leads on the dog owner or the dog. This incident illustrated the importance of people having animals under control and also illustrated how important it is for witnesses to get information at the scene, he said. Jotting down a license plate number, even in the dirt, is a helpful first step in cases similar to the dog attack, Galloway said. Parker and Debbie Torres, a Lincoln rider who was also on the trail, described the man as in his mid-to-late 20s, balding, with a short fringe of black hair near the ears, stocky and about 5 feet 5 inches tall. He wore jeans and a white T-shirt. Parker described the pit bull as tan in color, with black and white markings and black on its face. Two dogs were with the man and the pit bull but didn't join in the attack. One dog was smaller and all white, possibly a terrier, she said. The other was blond-colored, thin and shorthaired with docked ears. Galloway said that since the news of the attack came out, reports from rangers in the field have indicated that dog owners are abiding more with the park leash law. Leashes are mandatory and there's a $260 fine for having a dog at large. Galloway added that the number of citations for breaking the leash requirement weren't tallied for the recreation area's annual report but that rangers generally give a warning to dog owners. A citation would likely occur on a second violation the same day or the day after, he said. The idea of a daylong crackdown similar to California Highway Patrol zero tolerance days to catch speeders is possible but with four ranger positions for the recreation patrol area, it's something that could happen if the park had more employees, Galloway said. We could draw on other areas but they're also suffering, he said. Most of the trails have signs about leash laws at their entrances, Galloway said. There is a reason for the law and unfortunately one of those reasons was illustrated last week, Galloway said. The Journal's Gus Thomson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.