Thursday, November 20, 2008

Monroe City Hall Jammed With Defenders Of Pit Bulls

MONROE, Wash. -- A man whose 71-year-old mother was nearly mauled to death by pit bulls in SeaTac came to speak at a Monroe City Council meeting but was drowned out by others who came to defense of the breed, reported KIRO 7 Eyewitness News.

Eric John Makus' mother, Houng Le, was attacked by two pit bulls in September and was left with devastating and disfiguring injuries.

At the meeting Tuesday night, the council considered putting additional restrictions on certain breeds of dogs. The building was jammed with so many people, the packed room spilled into the hall and out onto the sidewalk.

Some who held signs said bad owners and not biology are responsible for vicious dogs.

Pit bull advocates who said they considered their dogs as family members protested breed-specific laws during the meeting.

"If a person doesn't raise their child right, you don't ban children," said Andre Brown.

Makus wanted to speak on his mother's behalf, but couldn't get into the room.

"It's human dismemberment is what these dogs tried to do. It's not a little puncture wound. They rip and tear. They tear ears off," said Makus, whose mother had to have both ears reattached following the pit bull attack.

One owner who was recently cited by Monroe's current laws said breed-specific laws wouldn't have stopped his dog from biting a child and then being put down.

"My dog was a lab mix, 1-1/2 years old. Pit bulls had nothing to do with it," said Mathew Vandecasteele.

In the end, the council was leaning toward laws targeting bad owners and not troubled breeds. They will revisit the issue in six months and then decide how to deal with owners who have dogs that become aggressive.

Makus said he is not giving up his fight against the breed.

"Let the battle begin. This is not going to go away," said Makus.

Meanwhile, the owner of the two pit bulls responsible for the attack on Makus' mother pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges of possession of a dangerous dog as well as two gun possession charges.

Travis Dean Cunningham, 36, could serve up to 13 years in prison if convicted as charged.

Cunningham's two dogs, Big Guy and Rim Shot, broke out of a fenced-in back yard and attacked Huong as she walked home from a bus stop in SeaTac, Sgt. John Urquhart with the King County Sheriff's Office said.

A neighbor in the area of the attack who declined to be identified said he or she used a pitchfork to pull the pit bulls off the woman, but police said they had to shoot the dogs to stop the attack.

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