Pit bull shot, euthanized after attempted attack in Lacey neighborhood

A pit bull that had reportedly been roaming a Tanglewilde-area neighborhood and lunged at a one-year-old girl yesterday was shot by a sheriff's deputy and later euthanized at Mountain View Veterinary Hospital in Lacey, officials said today.

A resident on the 8000 block of North Bicentennial Loop said he saw the dog running towards his niece who was on the front lawn around noon Wednesday, but he was able to grab the child and bring her inside the house before the dog attacked, Thurston County Sheriff's Lt. Chris Mealy said.

The deputy reportedly fired three shots at the dog before it was subdued enough for officers to approach it, he said.

This was the second complaint this week by residents in the area of an aggressive pit bull running loose. On Monday, a deputy responding to the first complaint had already shot the dog after it tried to attack an animal control officer, but it ran away before officials could trap it, Thurston County Animal Services Director Susanne Beauregard said.

The bullet had reportedly pierced a fold of skin but did not lodge in the dog's body, she said.

(An earlier version of this story that stated an animal control officer shot the dog was incorrect. Animal control officers are not armed, Beauregard said.)

"There was no possible recovery for the dog," Beauregard said of its euthanization, adding that no reports were filed for a missing dog.

The dog doesn't appear to have an owner. There was no collar or microchip, but it was neutered, she said.

It was unclear what caused this pit bull to behave so aggressively toward humans. "It's very puzzling," she said. "The dog wasn't paying attention to the animals around it and was zeroing in on people instead. That was not expected."

Tough dog owners

Pit bulls are becoming a larger presence in the county's animal shelters, Beauregard said. Their reputation for being tough animals also make them popular with South Sound dog owners, especially younger men.

"A long time ago, the Rottweiler was the tough dog," she said. "And in the shelters, you might see one Rott. Now, I could see five or six pit bulls at a given time."

Pit bulls are typically strong dogs and very prey-driven, like many other animals, she said. But when they close in on humans, they are more problematic, she said.

Owners generally should not leave their dogs unattended, especially in these summer months as more people are spending time outdoors. They also need to better anticipate how a situation or setting might aggravate or excite their pets, she said.