LA GRANDE, UNION COUNTY OR - 2 UNVACCINATED PIT BULLS WERE ALLOWED TO RUN LOOSE AND ATTACK 2 TEENAGERS IN SEPARATE INCIDENCES
Two dogs have been classified as "dangerous" and may be euthanized after they attacked a La Grande High School student Thursday morning as she was walking to school.
Adrianna Gockley said she was bitten around 7:30 a.m. The junior at La Grande High School was walking by herself on the corner of Fir Street and Jackson Avenue when she sawTWO PIT BULLS running in front of her.
“Then they started toward me, barking and growling,” Gockley said. “I kind of paused and took a step back. That’s when they started lunging and biting at me.”
Gockley said she felt a bite in her thigh and was immediately knocked to the ground, landing on her side.
“After they started lunging, I got knocked on the ground,” she said. “I kicked one of them in the face, and that’s when they backed off for a few seconds. That’s when I started running, and they started lunging and biting at me again.”
A resident in the neighborhood saw her and, realizing the danger she was in, let her come into her house. Gockley said the woman was just as scared as she was.
The injuries sustained in the attack include a small puncture on her leg, which Gockley said was bleeding but not significantly deep. But she did get lightheaded and vomited from shock following the incident, and said she had swelling in her leg and lots of bruises, including on her arm, from being knocked over.
The attack was reported to the La Grande dispatch center at 7:30 a.m. Two La Grande Police officers and two Union County Sheriff’s officers immediately responded and began searching for the dogs, which were located at 7:56 a.m. The dogs were in a mobile home where one of their owners live. Law enforcement officers were directed there by people in the neighborhood.
“The neighbors were splendid in helping us,” said La Grande Police Officer Matt Duncan.
Law enforcement officers contained the dogs before the Union County Sheriff’s Office Animal Enforcement officer arrived to seize them. The pit bulls have been quarantined at a La Grande area veterinarian office.
The dogs also reportedly attacked someone on Tuesday near where Gockley was bitten. Shallain Lewis, who lives at the corner of Fir Street and Jackson Avenue, said her daughter, also an LHS student, was attacked Tuesday morning.
Lewis said the attack on her daughter occurred Tuesday around 7:50 a.m. Lewis had an 8 a.m. appointment, and while getting ready to leave, she and her daughter heard barking outside and saw the dogs running around in her yard.
Once outside, the dogs ran up to her daughter who, according to Lewis, slid up against her car to try to avoid them, but she was bitten in the leg.
After she called animal control, Lewis was able to assess the damage to her daughter’s leg.
“It didn’t really break skin or draw any blood, but she was scared,” Lewis said of her daughter.
Lewis said she had never seen the dogs before that morning, but later on in the afternoon, she witnessed the dogs running up and down the street and causing traffic dangers.
Then Thursday morning, Lewis and her daughter also heard the commotion when Gockley was attacked by the dogs.
“I heard screaming and yelling, so I jumped out of bed and saw the two dogs,” she said.
The two pit bulls are owned separately by Shay Richards, 49, and her daughter, Isabelle Richards, 19, both of La Grande. Sgt. Bill Miller of the Union County Sheriff’s Office said that both will be cited on charges of having a dog at large, having a dog without a rabies vaccination and maintaining a dog as a public nuisance.
Classified as “dangerous” because of Tuesday’s and Thursday’s attacks, each dog will be euthanized after 10 days of being quarantined unless its owner files an appeal and pays a $500 deposit and a $25 fee. The deposit would cover the cost of holding a dog during the appeal process, Miller said.
The pit bulls, Ruca and Honey, are both 17-month-old females, according to one of the owners. The owner said the dogs got out Thursday because of a broken latch. The dogs were ill at ease, because the family had moved to the neighborhood from another in La Grande four days ago.
The Thursday attack occurred a few blocks southwest of Greenwood Elementary School. Greenwood Principal Ryan Westenskow, after learning of the attack and that the dogs were loose, put a low-level lockdown in place. Students were not allowed to leave the school building until the dogs were found.
Westenskow stayed outside the school welcoming students but also urging them to hurry in. The principal and other school staff members remained on the lookout for the dogs.
“We kept our eyes on the perimeter of the building,” Westenskow said.
Gockley said Thursday afternoon she knows she’s lucky she avoided more severe injuries, but she is already more apprehensive about strange dogs during walks around town.
“Even if I see a dog on a leash, I walk the other way,” she said.