Law enforcement officials are investigating two separate pitbull attacks in as many days this week on North Whidbey.
Wednesday night, an Oak Harbor police officer shot and killed a pitbull that charged at him on NE First Street, Oak Harbor Police Chief Rick Wallace said. The officer was responding to a report that the aggressive dog had attacked a man and his daughter, who took shelter in a neighbor’s house.
Nobody was injured in the attack, but that wasn’t the case Thursday night in the Rolling Hills development south of Oak Harbor.
Jim Murdy, a Diane Avenue resident, explained that he was working in his yard at around 4 p.m. and went to check on his 5- and 6-year-old grandsons. He heard a “blood curdling” yelp and turned to see a pitbull attacking his small dog, a Pembroke Welsh corgi named Ringo.
Murdy hit and kicked the pitbull as hard as he could, but it didn’t seem to faze the dog. The pitbull dragged Ringo underneath the motorhome, so Murdy went to grab a hedger as a weapon.
“I thought, ‘you ain’t going to kill my dog, especially in front of me,’” he said.
Then he heard his wife, Sandi, screaming on the porch, where the pitbull had cornered Ringo. Sandi Murdy grabbed a broom and hit the dog, bending the broom.
“When I hit the dog she would just look at me,” she said. “I thought she was going to come after me.”
Jim Murdy said he cut the pitbull on the shoulder with the hedger and pushed hard enough that the motor stopped. It caused a laceration, but again the dog barely flinched as it was intent on attacking the corgi.
At that point, Jim Murdy grabbed the pitbull by the collar and it bit him on the hand, causing serious-looking puncture wounds. He finally was able to grab the dog around the neck and held it on the porch until deputies and animal control arrived.
Island County Animal Control Officer Carol Barnes said the pitbull wasn’t aggressive toward her or the two deputies when they got there. A neighbor woman who owns the dog was very upset about what had happened. She said the dog escaped after her son left a gate open.
“She’s led us to believe that the dog is going to be euthanized,” Barnes said. “She loves the dog very much and this is a difficult decision for her to make. She is being very cooperative.”
According to Barnes, the dog is a 13-year-old female that the family got from a pitbull rescue group in Seattle. The owner’s daughter said the dog has a history of being aggressive towards other canines, but has never bitten a person before.
Ringo the corgi suffered several bites and went to the veterinarian for treatment Thursday night. Jim Murdy headed to the hospital for treatment.
“I thank God we’re not burying one of my grandchildren,” Sandi Murdy said, noting that the dog attacked just a few feet from where the children were playing.
As for the dog that was shot in Oak Harbor, Wallace said the owner appeared to be suffering from dementia and he’s unsure whether the man will face any charges.
Terry Sampson, Oak Harbor’s animal control officer, said he had previously responded to a report of the pitbull aggressively barking at people. He said he doesn’t hesitate to call for backup when dealing with aggressive dogs and was sympathetic to the police officer.
“From what I know, the dog charged the officer a couple of different times,” he said. “There comes a point when you have to make a decision.”