Mauling case puts Burien's dangerous dog law to the test



Posted on September 21, 2010 at 5:14 PM

Updated Tuesday, Sep 21 at 5:20 PM

BURIEN, Wash. - The City of Burien has an ordinance against dangerous dogs. A being case heard today is putting it to the test.

The City is seeking the maximum punishment after a woman was seriously mauled by a pit bull. But even if the City prevails in this case the dog will be free to strike again.

In Burien City Hall today, victim Jeannette Cunningham recalled the day last July when a loose pit bull lunged at her face as she walked along Southwest 23rd Street.

“That dog's going to kill somebody else,” says Cunningham. “If it would have been a kid that night they would have been dead."

Investigators determined the dog came from a house on the street where a 3-year-old pit bull mixed breed named Kiko lived.    

"I don't know what is wrong with the dog. That's what bothers me," says Cunningham.  “I don't know what would make it do this to me."

The dog bit off her lower lip and left lasting scars on her face.

Today Cunningham found herself fighting to keep the dog from returning to the neighborhood.

Two sisters from the family that owns the dog are appealing the city's designation that Kiko is a dangerous animal.

"It's our family dog. we've had the dog since he was a puppy," says M. Garcia, who says her young children live and play with the dog.

At the end of today’s hearing, examiner Ted Hunter affirmed the city’s decision that Kiko is a dangerous dog and he barred the animal from the city limits.

But the case raises questions about Burien's dangerous dog ordinance, as the dog is free to live with other Garcia family members outside of Burien.

"It's outrageous that the city would simply ship the dog to another jurisdiction when the city has determined he is dangerous to the public," says Cunningham’s attorney, Chris Davis.

The Garcia family says it will appeal today’s decision and continue to try to bring Kiko back home.

Yesterday, Cunningham filed a lawsuit against the family in King County Court.