OREGON -- The pit bull that attacked and killed a Pomeranian on a Portland streetcar Wednesday night was reported missing by its Colorado owner in June, Multnomah County officials said.
Multnomah County Animal Services contacted the owner in Longmont, Colo., after detecting a microchip in the dog, said Director Mike Oswald.
The dog, a female, is being held at the county's shelter in Troutdale under two names: Perrdy and Baby Girl. It will stay at the shelter until an investigation determines its fate, which could include requiring the dog to wear a muzzle, Oswald said. The dog is unlikely to be euthanized.
Animal Services is working with Portland police to interview witnesses, the girl who was in possession of the pit bull and the owner of the Pomeranian that later died at DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital after the attack on the streetcar.
Sgt. Pete Simpson, a spokesman for the Portland Police Bureau, said the investigation could wrap-up as soon as Thursday night. He said the "victim was adamant she does not want any contact."
He said the girl with the pit bull is a minor. He said the police report on the incident could be available on Friday.
A witness, Cole Vliet-Sutten, 32, said he was riding the CL Line when a woman and her pit bull walked onto the streetcar at Northwest 13th Avenue and Lovejoy Street. Almost immediately, Vliet-Sutten said, the pit bull lunged at a black Pomeranian already on board.
"The pit bull put its mouth over the other dog's head," he said. "Everybody was screaming, and this happened for five to 10 minutes."
Oswald said Joe Garside, another rider on the streetcar who also had his small Boston terrier named Loki with him, tried to break the pit bull's grip but was bitten on the left hand and went to the hospital for treatment.
"The little dog hid behind his owner when the big pit bull got on the train and that's when the pit bull attacked. If I hadn't been holding Loki that could have been him," Garside wrote. "...watching that poor little dog get killed like that in front of me and being helpless to stop it is something I can't un-see. It's not war, it's not a person with a questionable past, it's a true innocent creature."
Eventually, witnesses said, the woman with the pit bull was able to pry the dog's jaws open to release its grip. Oswald said the dog was on a leash.
Investigators have interviewed the girl who had the pit bull, he said. Even though she's apparently not the owner, she's still responsible for the actions of the dog, he said. That could translate into restrictions for handling the dog in public and prohibition from riding public transit for a certain period, according to transit rules and city ordinances.
Portland streetcar rules (which mirror TriMet rules) assert that service dogs that are considered guide dogs and companion animals must be on a leash and "remain under your control and behave appropriately."
Portland Streetcar code says pets that are not service animals, must be "kept and held at all times
within a secure container appropriate and constructed for carrying the size and type of animal."
Dylan Rivera, a spokesman for the Portland Bureau of Transportation, said the girl could face a fine of $175 if she violated the streetcar rules regarding animals. She could also be banned from using the streetcar up to 180 days.
Because the pit bull killed another dog investigators are trying to determine if the dog should be classified as a potentially dangerous dog.
Under Multnomah County ordinances, a dog that "aggressively bites any person" or "kills or causes the death of any domestic animal" is considered level 4 -- which kicks in the following restrictions:
The dog would be forced to wear a muzzle and must be kept in a secure enclosure. The owner would have to buy public liability insurance or complete a pet ownership program. The owner also could be required to post warning signs on their property.
"These are issues that we are trying to sort out,'' Oswald said. "We need to interview as many people as possible who witnessed this. There are still a lot of unanswered questions."
One of those is how the dog got to Portland from Colorado, he said.
Everyone needs to know just how dangerous it is to try and separate dogs that are fighting, especially in such tight quarters like those found on streetcar, Oswald added.
"Everything happens so quickly,'' Oswald said. "Our natural instinct is to separate them, but that's a dangerous situation even if it's your own dog."
Instead, he said, try and get a natural barrier between the two dogs, use a leash to pull them apart. Sticking your hand in the attacking dog's mouth is pretty sure way to get bitten, he said.
(The Oregonian - September 25, 2014)