2 sent to hospital after dog attack in east Kennewick

By Michelle Dupler, Tri-City HeraldJanuary 1, 2013 

Mark Gidley won't soon forget hearing his friend scream outside of his home in an unincorporated part of east Kennewick.

He won't forget running outside and seeing two dogs mauling Shawna Moberg, or having one of them lunge at him and pin him to the ground with its teeth gripping his leg, or the sound of shots being fired as a Benton County Sheriff's deputy searched for the dogs and almost was attacked himself.

Gidley, Moberg and Gidley's Yorkshire terrier Moose were the victims of a dog attack Sunday night that put Moberg in the hospital and left Gidley and Moose injured.

Gidley, 42, told the Herald that Moberg, 41, had come to his home in the 1000 block of South Gum Street to walk Moose, and had only been outside for a couple of minutes when he heard her scream.

He ran outside and saw her being attacked by two dogs he described as pit bulls -- one he estimated at 110 to 120 pounds and the other at 60 to 70 pounds.

"They were huge," he said.

He said he managed to get Moose away from one of the dogs, and the larger of the two came at Gidley.

"It got me by the calf and I was down," he said. "I weigh 350 pounds and he took me down."

Gidley, Moberg and Moose managed to get away, and Gidley called 911 for an ambulance for Moberg, who was badly injured.

"Her wounds were vicious," he said.

Deputies arrived along with the ambulance and started searching for the two dogs, which had run away.

Gidley said he heard multiple gunshots a couple of minutes later.

Benton County Lt. Chuck Jones told the Herald that deputies responded to the dog attack call about 8 p.m. Sunday.

The dogs returned to the home while deputies were searching, and a deputy shot both as they moved to attack him, Jones said.

Both dogs ran after being shot. The deputy followed them to a nearby home and killed the dogs when they remained aggressive and couldn't be secured, a news release said.

The deputy was not injured, but Gidley and Moberg were taken to Kennewick General Hospital, where Moberg was admitted and was in stable condition Monday.

Moose's leg was broken in two places and will require pins to fix it, Gidley said.

The sheriff's office didn't disclose the dog owner's name or names, but said the case was forwarded to the Benton County Prosecutor's Office to consider possible charges.

Gidley said he believed the dogs belonged to neighbors who lived in a home in the same block where there was a fire a few months ago.

No one has lived in the home since the fire, but the dogs have remained in a kennel and someone comes by to take care of them, he said.

He never saw the dogs run loose until the attack Sunday.

"I thought they had moved the dogs out," he said. "They were no trouble before. I hardly ever saw them except when (the owners) were walking them."

Deputies also said they believed the dogs were pit bulls.

"They looked like pit bulls and acted like pit bulls," Jones said.

But advocates for the breed say it can be difficult to tell by sight whether a dog is an American pit bull terrier or American Staffordshire terrier -- the only two breeds that can accurately be described as "pit bulls," according to the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

The society's web page on pit bulls said many breeds often are mistaken for pit bulls, including boxers, bulldogs or bullmastiffs.

A pit bull generally is a short-haired dog with a wide skull, powerful jaws and a stocky, muscular body. Size and appearance can vary greatly and the dogs can range from as small as 25 pounds to 80 pounds or more, and can be large and bulky or lean, the ASPCA website said.

Because of the dogs' size and power, pit bull bites often can result in serious injuries that have stirred controversy around the breed and led to bans in some places.

But advocates say the breed can be loyal and loving if well socialized and properly trained.

-- Michelle Dupler: 582-1543; mdupler@tricityherald.com

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