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Tag: king county

Seattle: Where dogs are king

To my list of top five dog parks in America — which for all I know may number 16 by now — I must add one more: Marymoor Park in King County, Washington.

This is what a dog park should be — not some over-landscaped half acre, not fake hills covered with fake grass, not a field of gravel or a stretch of pavement.

Marymoor’s dog park is about as organic as dog parks get — this is Seattle after all — with the only obvious addition to its 40 acres of nature being the tons of mulch on the trails to keep things from getting too soggy.

“Doggy Disneyland,” as some call it, is huge — and hugely popular. When Ace and I visited this week, we saw two jam-packed parking lots, and well over 100 dogs romping about, some in the river, some in the open fields.

Located on what used to be a farm, the dog park features several hundred feet of river access and numerous walking paths. It’s less than two miles from the main Microsoft campus, which is something to behold as well.

The Seattle area, just as it draws high tech companies, seems to attract dog lovers — either that or it sprouts them from its well-watered soil. The abundance of dogs,  the esteem in which they are held, and lots of hard work have combined to make it a good place to be a dog.

Seattle and its surrounding area started opening dog parks before a lot of cities even started thinking about them.

The Save Our Dog Area committee of Marymoor Park formed in 1987 when citizens learned the King County Parks Division planned to close the off-leash area.

It managed to convince the county that dogs and their owners were as deserving of some recreational space as soccer-playing kids, kite-flyers and picnickers.

In 1995, the King County Council voted to adopt the new Marymoor Master Plan which called for keeping the dog area open and operating. After that SODA, which initially stood for “Save Our Dog Areas,” became “Serve Our Dog Areas,” working to maintain the acreage devoted to dogs.

Within the city of Seattle, another group, COLA (Citizens for Off-Leash Areas) was formed in 1995, seeking permanent off-leash recreational access in some of Seattle’s nearly 400 parks.

After opening seven dog parks on a trial basis, the Seattle City Council in 1997 voted 9-0 to establish permanent off-leash dog areas, giving COLA the responsibility of stewarding the sites for the Department of Parks and Recreation. There are now 11 of them.

In our 17,000 miles of traveling so far we’ve seen a lot of dog-friendly towns, including the dog-friendliest, but the Seattle area, in our book, has got to be one of the dog friendliest big cities in the country … Rain or shine.

Teen gets detention in pit bull attack

A 16-year-old girl who used a pit bull dog to attack two women in Washington state was sentenced yesterday to 14 to 17 months in juvenile detention.

In the June attack, the girl and a group of boys were kicking the dog in a street in SeaTac when a woman driving by stopped because she thought they needed help. Police say the girl opened the door and beat the woman who was bitten by the dog. Another woman who stopped to help also was bitten.

The dog, named Snaps, was sent to an animal sanctuary because it was too violent to be adopted, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported.

Prosecutors argued that the girl’s actions stemmed from “pure cruelty” and that she deserved a 14- month term, instead of the 13-to-36-week standard term.

“This is a violence and anger-management problem,” King County Juvenile Court Judge Philip G. Hubbard, Jr., said. “Failure to address it is not an option.”

Prosecutors said the girl attacked the first woman when she stopped and told her not to kick the dog. When another woman stopped to inquire about the altercation, she too was attacked by the teen and dog, according to court documents.

The girl apologized to the victims, who were in court for the sentencing yesterday.

In court, the first victim, identified only as Inga, said the attack brought back memories of her own violent childhood. “When I was being beaten, all of that came back to me,” Inga said, speaking directly to the accused. “And I felt for you, because I know what that feels like.”

“I want you to get help,” she continued, eliciting tears from her attacker. “You were horrible. You were terrible, and you know it.”

And nothing but the truth, so help me dog

courthousedogsDogs aren’t just permitted in Washington state’s King County Courthouse, they work there — serving to calm the nerves of  intimidated witnesses and make their testimony flow more freely.

In addition to serving as companions for traumatized victims of child abuse who are testifying in court, the dogs are used for a variety of other courthouse purposes, according to a recent article in the Dallas Morning News.

According to the Courthouse Dogs website, dogs have been helping seek justice in Seattle since 2003.

The dogs provide comfort to sexually abused children while they undergo forensic interviews and testify in court, assist drug court participants in their recovery, visit juveniles in detention facilities, greet jurors and in general lift the spirits of courthouse staff.

Ellen O’Neill-Stephens, a prosecutor in Seattle, launched Courthouse Dogs in 2003 after using a service dog – Jeeter – for her son who has cerebral palsy.

She was in Dallas this week to make a presentation on the progam to the 21st annual Crimes Against Children Conference, sponsored by the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center and the Dallas Police Department.

“Sometimes, these children will say things to the dog that they’re too embarrassed to say to a person,” Stephens said. “We had a girl who had been severely abused and she could never talk about it. But she petted Jeeter for over 90 minutes straight and she was able to tell what happened.”

Stephens said the courthouse dogs are usually golden or Labrador retrievers who go through an intensive training regimen. Only about 30 percent of the dogs that start out actually make it, she said.

She said she believes that the highly skilled canines can often be the difference in a conviction or not guilty verdict in child abuse cases.

“These children are suffering acute emotional trauma,” she said. “These dogs can help them get through that.”

(Photo courtesy of www.courthousedogs.org)

Saving Snaps

snaps1An online petition drive is underway to save Snaps, the pit bull we wrote about yesterday. To sign it, go here.

Snaps was being abused by a group of teenagers in the town of SeaTac, Washington, including a member of the family who owns him, when a good samaritan interrupted them.

She, and another good samaritan, were both bitten by the dog, at the urging of the teens.

Charges are pending against the teenagers, who police said were abusing the pit bull to make him more violent.

Original reports said Snaps would be euthanized, but a spokesperson for King County told the B.Town Blog that a decision on the dog’s fate has not been reached.

Because the case is still under investigation, and the dog may be considered evidence, Snaps may spend more than the required 10-day quarantine period in the care of King County Animal Care & Control.

“The laws are such that when a dog causes such severe and multiple bites, it may be declared a “dangerous dog” and is subject to the local regulations regarding confinement, removal from the area, and/or possible euthanasia,” the spokesperson said. “At this point, we also do not know if the owners or the children of the owners spent time “training” the dog to attack or defend, so we would have to be careful and consider the safety of placing it with another family or organization.”

Teens sic pit bull on two good samaritans

snapsA 63-year-old Seattle woman stopped her car when she saw a group of teenagers repeatedly kicking a pit bull in the town of SeaTac. She asked the group — three boys and a girl — what the problem was.

The girl, 15, told her to mind her own business, then walked over to her car, opened the passenger door, pulled the woman out by her hair and started beating her.

As the woman tried to run away, one of the boys ran after her with the dog, which started biting the woman on the arm and legs.

A King County sheriff’s department official said the teenagers were abusing the dog, named Snaps, to make it violent, according to The Seattle Times.

Pretty disgusting. But wait there’s more. Another Seattle woman, 41, saw the attack and followed the group to a nearby park. There, the girl realized the group was being followed and began beating the second woman. The three boys then provoked the dog to bite the second woman on her head, face and arms while the girl assaulted her, the sheriff’s office said.

The second woman was hospitalized, but it’s not known if the first required treatment.

Police said the girl, whose family owns the pit bull, also received medical treatment, having injured her foot from repeatedly kicking the second victim, and being bitten by the dog as well.

The sheriff’s department said the girl, from Burien, will  likely face felony assault charges. The three boys, aged 11, 12 and 13, all from White Center, also could face criminal charges. All four were released to the custody of their parents. The girl’s mother also might face charges because the dog was unlicensed and was out in public without a muzzle, a violation of local animal-control regulations in the city of SeaTac.

The dog was seized by King County animal control and is expected to be euthanized.

(Photo: King County Sheriff’s Office)

Losing a Buddy

 

The King County Animal Shelter in Kent, Washington acted appropriately when it euthanized a stray dog known as Buddy, a county review of the case has concluded. But the couple that picked him up off the street still disagrees with the choice.

Buddy’s death June 17 outraged the Auburn couple that found him wandering in traffic 13 days earlier. Jim Giuntoli, who rescued Buddy with his wife, Kim, said the dog was friendly and “would have made an adorable pet.”

But Carolyn Ableman, who oversees animal shelters for the county, said Buddy, a black Lab mix was so aggressive toward other animals he couldn’t safely be put up for adoption.

Those reviewing the case said Buddy snapped at the animal-control officer who first put him into a truck. He was reported to act dominantly over other dogs and snarled at an officer who intervened when Buddy attacked a kennel mate over food. A veterinarian on the review team said Buddy “represented a potential threat to public safety and therefore was not a suitable candidate” for adoption.

Jim Giuntoli disagrees. “They didn’t give Buddy a fair chance to even make it out of the shelter alive,” he said.

After Buddy’s death, the Giuntolis removed from the Kent shelter two other dogs they had rescued and took them to the Humane Society in Bellevue. One was quickly adopted out. The other is now at Seattle-based Animals First Foundation, where founder Carina Borja said he shows no signs of aggressiveness.

The county shelters in Kent and Bellevue have been under close scrutiny since independent reports over the past year said they are overcrowded and animals are held in inhumane, unhealthy conditions, according to the Seattle Times.

(Photo by Jim Giuntoli)