According to a report from the Lakewood Police Department, a border collie mix adopted from the rescue group PURRR Rescue mauled a 6-year-old boy in Lakewood in July, 2013.
The boy suffered several lacerations to his right arm that required 15 stitches to close. He also had a few puncture wounds, scratches to his arm and leg, and abrasions to his face.
PURRR Rescue came under scrutiny after the Tacoma News Tribune reported last December that 3 of the dogs the rescue adopted out killed 2 cats and 2 dogs in 3 separate incidents during a 40 day period last summer.
The shelter euthanized 2 of the dogs. The other one another lives in a foster care facility on Joint Base Lewis McChord.
The story spurred concern that the rescue brings in dogs from overcrowded shelters in California and adopting them out to families in Washington without properly evaluating whether or not the dogs had any behavior problems.
I don’t know where PURRR got the dog that bit the Lakewood boy.
The attack occurred on July 30, 2013 in a neighbor’s yard. The responding animal control officer said surveillance video cameras recorded the attack.
The kids were playing with sticks and a cardboard fort. When the boy kicked the fort, the dog, came out and began “biting and pulling” on his upper right arm.
The attack lasted for about 52 seconds. That’s a LONG time for a dog to continue an attack on someone.
The family only had the dog about a month before the attack occurred. During his investigation, the officer learned that since the family had the dog, she bit 2 of the neighbor’s kids, one on on the wrist, the other on the finger. She also bit the father on the lip.
Diana Van Dusen from PURRR Rescue told Bill Mathies, the investigating animal control officer, that her group “has a screening process” and that the dog had “no prior history of aggression.”
She also said the dog was enrolled in a “training course” at Petco.
The mom of the family that owned the dog sounded clueless in the police report. She told the officer the dog that attacked the boy was just having a “bad day.”
The dog must have had at least 3 other bad days; it bit two of her kids and her husband.
A dog that bites at least 4 people within a month isn’t just having bad days. It probably has a serious behavior problem and needs an extensive evaluation from a qualified professional to determine if it can ever be adopted.
I sent a message to Ms. Van Dusen saying that I was working on this story and asking if she had any comment. Although Ms. Van Dusen didn’t respond, a supporter of hers who lives in California did. She said the report was unfair and that the Officer Mathies has “a hate for Diana.”
But several South Sound agencies have had problems with Ms. Van Dusen and PURR Rescue:
- The Humane Society for Tacoma and Pierce County and Metro Animal Services in Puyallup “won’t release animals to her,” and its director said “she’s in over her head.”
- The City of Lakewood denied her business license application because allowing her to keep adopting out dogs could be “injurious to the public health, safety and welfare.”
- A Lakewood Animal Control officer investigating one of the attacks last summer said Van Dusen told him during his investigation that she’d had the dog “assessed by a dog trainer who determined the dog was adoptable.” But the trainer told him, “I never saw this dog.”
- When she moved her dogs from Lakewood to Tacoma, Animal Control visited the property twice and sent her a letter in October saying “she needed to license the animals.”
The fact that 4 dogs adopted out by PURRR over the course of a year have been involved in attacks on other pets and a child indicates to me that something is wrong how this organization identifies, imports, evaluates, and adopts out its dogs.
To put a finer point on it, 3 of the 4 dogs involved in the attacks have been euthanized.
How can that be considered rescue?
Below are copies of the official police report about the incident. I redacted the names and addresses of the both families involved in the attack. I also redacted names of the neighbors who witnessed the attack and pulled the dog off the boy.