More than 40% of jurisdictions that repeal pit bull bans have a fatal or disfiguring attack within 30 months
PROSSER, Washington––Christin Gregerson, 45, and son Hunter, 15, beat the odds on April 8, 2022.
First of all, they survived an unprovoked attack by as many as seven pit bulls.
Second, unknown to them, Christin and Hunter, and their dog, who was killed, were the victims of the first known Level 5 or Level 6 pit bull attack to occur in Prosser since the community repealed a pit bull ban in 2005, 17 years ago.
For a community that repeals a pit bull ban to go that long before having a pit bull-inflicted maiming, mauling, or killing was previously unheard of.
The Ian Dunbar scale
What does “Level 5 or Level 6” mean?
According to the dog attack severity scale developed by veterinarian, animal behaviorist, and dog trainer Ian Dunbar, distributed by the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, the six levels of severity are:
• Level 1: aggressive behavior but no physical contact.
• Level 2: the dog’s teeth make contact with the victim, but do not break the skin, meaning there is no bleeding and no risk of rabies transmission.
• Level 3: a single bite with shallow wounds.
• Level 4: a single bite with deep wounds, whether from a puncture or shaking and tearing.
• Level 5: multiple bites with deep wounds.
• Level 6: death of the victim and/or flesh consumed.
Dunbar recommends euthanasia for dogs who inflict Level 5 and Level 6 attacks, because, he writes, “The dog is simply not safe around people.”
Why pit bulls are banned
ANIMALS 24-7 has logged high Level 4, Level 5, and Level 6 dog attacks since 1982. During that 40 years, of more than 11,300 attacks, pit bulls––about 5.4% of the U.S. and Canadian dog population––have accounted for more than 7,850 (70%), including 570 of the 914 human fatalities (62%).
On average, according to data logged by ANIMALS 24-7, about 40% of jurisdictions that repeal a pit bull ban will have a Level 5 or Level 6 pit bull attack within 30 months: two and a half years.
Other than Prosser, no jurisdiction known to ANIMALS 24-7 that has repealed a pit bull ban has gone without either a Level 5, Level 6, or multiple Level 4 pit bull attacks for longer than nine years.
30% of the jurisdictions known to ANIMALS 24-7 to have repealed pit bull bans without experiencing either a Level 5, Level 6, or multiple Level 4 attacks are still within 30 months of the repeal.
Among the jurisdictions whose repeals have been most publicized are Denver and Aurora, Colorado, and Overland Park and Prairie Village, Kansas, all of them still within the 30-month time frame.
Five-year-old Leonardo Duran on March 10, 2021 suffered a Level 5 pit bull attack only 21 days after the Aurora pit bull ban was repealed.
More toddler victims
Six-year-old Zainabou Drame on June 4, 2014 survived one of the most severely disfiguring attacks that anyone has lived through, 25 months after the repeal of the former Cincinnati pit bull ban.
The pit bull mauling deaths of two-year-olds Savannah Edwards on December 13, 2012 and Piper Dunbar, on September 24, 2016, both followed the 2010 repeal of the former pit bull ban in Topeka, Kansas.
Edwards was killed in an unincorporated part of Shawnee County, of which Topeka is the county seat. The Topeka pit bull ban had not covered the unincorporated suburbs; but the repeal of the ban allowed the Helping Hands Humane Society of Topeka to rehome the pit bull who soon afterward killed Edwards.
“Someone left the gate open”
Christin Gregerson and son Hunter “were walking with their dog,” about a third of a mile from home, reported Annette Cary of the Tri-City Herald, “when they were attacked at about 9 a.m. on Old Inland Empire Highway near Wilgus Road just west of Prosser, Washington.
“Someone had entered their neighbor’s property and left the gate open,” Cary wrote, “allowing six or seven dogs to escape. The sheriff’s office identified them as pit bulls.
“The pit bulls attacked the Gregersons’ dog and killed it, Lieutenant Jason Erickson of the Benton County Sheriff’s Office said. The mother and son tried to escape onto their property and close the gate, but the dogs were able to force their way through.
“The dogs began to maul Christin Gregerson and as her son tried to protect her, he also was bitten, Erickson said.”
Willow Grove Kennels
Not mentioned in the Tri-City Herald coverage was that Christin and her husband Kelly Gregerson, a senior Washington State Patrol officer, apart from keeping dogs of their own, operate Willow Grove Kennels LLC, a boarding facility incorporated only two months earlier, on February 8, 2022.
The Gregerson family is also involved in German shepherd rescue.
Christin and Hunter Gregerson therefore might be presumed to have at least been at ease around even unfamiliar and highly reactive dogs––and having above-average dog savvy might have saved their lives.
The pit bulls’ owner eventually helped “to fight his dogs off the Gregersons and get the dogs back inside his fence,” Cary wrote.
Three pit bulls to be euthanized, four back home
“The Gregersons were taken to Prosser Memorial Hospital and then transferred to Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland because of the extent of their injuries,” Benton County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Erickson told Cary.
“Deputies were able to identify three of the pit bulls in the attack because they were ‘covered with blood,’ Erickson said. But the other dogs look so much alike that it could not be determined which additional dogs also may have attacked,” Cary reported.
“The owner of the pit bulls has opted to have the three dogs that could be identified euthanized after a 10-day quarantine to check for rabies,” Cary finished.
That leaves the other four pit bulls to possibly escape and run at large again.
“Not out of the woods yet”
Local pastor Merrick Kingman set up a GoFundMe page for the Gregerson family, and has posted frequent updates, relayed by Kelly Gregerson, about the condition of Christin and Hunter Gregerson.
As of April 15, 2022, Kelly Gregerson said, “Hunter does not need further surgery or hospital treatment for his healing. Now we can manage his wounds at home. Christin is doing well. She got 24 stitches removed and we are able to reduce some of the wrapping. She will still need more hospital visits as she heals. They will both need physical therapy to regain strength and range of motion. They both have made progress but are not out of the woods yet.”
Zachary S. Willis
Washington state law, since January 1, 2020, has not allowed cities or counties to adopt, reinstate, or enforce local pit bull bans.
Zachary S. Willis, 27, of Moses Lake, Washington, was killed by a pit bull on October 8, 2020.
Moses Lake, however, had already repealed a local pit bull ban in 2011, nine years before the Washington state law would have in effect forced a repeal.