Dog attack victim fears further attacks – ‘Those dogs should be euthanized’

SEATTLE — The victim of a brutal dog attack is speaking out from her hospital bed, reliving the terrifying moments when she thought she might not survive.

It’s still unclear what will happen to the two dogs behind the attack, but victim Amy Craven wants to make sure those dogs will not be able to attack anyone else.

Craven says she was on a morning walk on the 3200 block of Fairview Avenue East when two pit bulls suddenly ran at her.

“I literally saw my leg being torn apart in front of my eyes,” Craven said from her hospital bed at Harborview Medical Center.

Six days after the horrifying attack, she is still at the hospital. KIRO7 spoke with her from her hospital Thursday.

“This whole part of my leg is pretty much missing right here,” Craven said, showing the bandages that run all the way up her left leg. A machine is attached to her leg, suctioning out fluids from the wound.

Craven was bitten about a dozen times by the dogs on her legs and chest.

“I was screaming at the top of my lungs, Jesus, please save me,” Craven said. In the surveillance video that captured the attack, you see Craven fall. She says she willed herself to get up.

“Had to be all adrenaline. I was like, I have to live. I have to live! I have kids, and they’re young and beautiful and I want to see them grow up,” she said.

People from Union Marine, a Seattle boat dealer and service center, heard her screams and came outside. The video shows a man throwing hammers at the dogs as Craven tries escape by crawling onto a car.

“If it wasn’t for the people at Union Marine, I think I would’ve died. I couldn’t get away,” Craven said.

She has since learned the owner of the dogs is homeless and stays in a nearby encampment. Seattle animal control confirmed to KIRO7 that the owner is currently living in a box truck. The dogs were initially returned to the owner to be quarantined per city municipal code but were later taken back to the shelter, where they are currently staying.

Craven says what is most disturbing is that animal control says it is possible the owner could get her dogs back.

In an email, an animal control spokesperson said, “The dogs are and will remain in the shelter’s care throughout the quarantine, with the possibility of remaining in city custody based on the investigation. The investigation will ultimately determine whether they can be returned or not.”

“It’s unfathomable,” Craven said. “If you’re attacked or even majorly bitten by a dog, those dogs should be euthanized.”

The city says there needs to be an investigation to “determine whether the animals would be declared dangerous.”

If the city chooses to move forward with the “dangerous dog” declaration, there will be a court hearing and the owner has the right to appeal. If the court determines the dogs are dangerous, the dogs could be euthanized or relocated outside of Seattle city limits.

“I’m angry. I feel like these dogs have more rights than me and my community members,” Craven said. “What is it going to take, for someone to be killed?”

Craven has already had three surgeries and says she will need two more before she can go home. That will be just the start of her recovery, which doctors say will take up to a year. She will need a home wound care machine and in-home care, and skin grafts in the future.

An animal control spokesperson said while the investigation is happening, the dogs will likely not be returned to their owner after the 10-day quarantine, but that could still happen next week.

The dog owner could also face criminal charges since the dogs were not leashed when the attack happened. However, it all depends on the investigation.

Q&A with Seattle Animal Control spokesperson (questions edited for clarity):

Were the dogs released back to the owner the day of the attack, and why?

The dogs were initially released back to the owner because Animal Shelter policy permits the owner to quarantine their animal either at the shelter, at their vet or in their home. The shelter cannot remove an animal from their owner if the owner is cooperative and has a place to contain the animal. If the owner is uncooperative or does not have a place to contain the animal, the shelter can get a warrant to take the animal into its custody. Additionally, so long as an animal can be safely contained from other people and animals, Public Health’s preferred, and our standard approach when a quarantine is required, is to have the animal undergo quarantine in their owner’s care. This is in part to reduce stress and disruptions for the animal and its caretaker. In this instance, the animals had no previous history of aggressive behavior, and the owner was cooperative and initially reported they could be quarantined in her care. Ultimately, however, during our close monitoring of the pets, she determined with the shelter on Saturday that it was best for the animals to quarantine at the shelter.

I understand the dogs are currently with the Seattle animal shelter. How long will the city be holding the dogs? Will the dogs be released back to the owner?

The dogs are currently completing their 10-day quarantine at the shelter. Quarantine is required any time a bite occurs and breaks skin.

As for when animals are returned, in general, it depends on the severity of the bite and what’s uncovered during an investigation. On severe injury incidents such as this, the dogs would likely be held by the shelter pending the completion of the investigation to administratively determine whether the animals would be declared dangerous.

Have there been previous attacks recorded by these same dogs? The victim says she’s been contacted by another victim in Tukwila who believes her son was also attacked by these same dogs.

The animals have no previous history of aggressive behavior that the Seattle Animal Shelter is aware of.

Would it be possible that the city will decide the dogs need to be humanely euthanized?

Yes, euthanasia can be a possibility in some cases. However, we cannot speak to these specific dogs since the investigation is active. If, during an investigation, the City moves forward with the process for a “dangerous dog” designation for an animal, a court hearing is held to determine the outcome. Potential outcomes for a dog determined to be dangerous include relocating the dog outside of city limits or euthanasia.

Would it be possible that the dogs are not deemed “dangerous?”

Again, this investigation is active so we cannot speak on these specific dogs. The designation as “dangerous” is based on the evidence collected during the investigation and factors in things like the severity of the bite and how it occurred (i.e., provoked or unprovoked). When the City moves to designate a dog as “dangerous,” a hearing is held and at that point the owner has the right to appeal. A determination can be made at that time as to whether the dog will remain in the shelter’s custody or return to the owner.

Are there any legal consequences for the dog owner after an attack? The RCW for Washington State law seems to say this is a misdemeanor, but in serious attacks, the owner could be guilty of a felony.

Yes, that’s correct. Again, however, we can’t comment on this specific case because it’s still active. The enforcement against the owner depends on the severity of the injuries sustained by the victim. Fines would be imposed if the injuries sustained were less than severe and could also result in the issuance of a citation for violation of the leash law. In an incident where a person has suffered severe injury, the owner would face an administrative process for deeming a dog dangerous. The standard definition of severe injury means one or more lacerations or injuries requiring medical attention. The administrative process could potentially result in banning the animal from city limits.

Can you confirm the dogs are pit bulls?

The owner of the dogs reported to Animal Shelter staff they are American pit bull terrier x Labrador retriever and American pit bull terrier x border collie.