Pit bull fatality followed BSL repeal in Moses Lake in 2020, & now in Kennewick, 75 miles south on Washington state route 395, in 2023
KENNEWICK, Washington––The September 21, 2023 death of Billene “Billi” Cameron, 65, demonstrated yet again the strong likelihood that a community that repeals breed-specific restrictions of possession of pit bulls will soon experience a fatal or disfiguring pit bull attack.
Cameron died “from complications related to surgery at the Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland,” reported Wendy Culverwell and Cameron Probert for the Tri-City Herald.
Richland, neighboring Kennewick, where Cameron lived and worked, and Pasco, Washington are often called the Tri-Cities, located in southern Washington state, alongside the Columbia River, east of Yakima, south of Moses Lake and the Hanford nuclear reservation.
Victim rescued her pug
Cameron was undergoing surgery in consequence of critical injuries received the afternoon before, at about 2:00 p.m. on September 20, 2023, when according to neighbors and relatives she tried to save her pug from an attack by two pit bulls who invaded her yard.
The pit bulls redirected, turning on her.
Posted Cameron’s cousin Vern Lampman Jr. to Facebook, “As of yesterday, Billi’s pug was still alive. He has serious puncture wounds and some internal organ damage.
“The pit bull had the pug in his mouth and was shaking it. Billi managed to get her dog away from the pit bull and was severely attacked in the process.
Neighbor fought pit bulls with his cane
“The neighbor behind her property saw what was happening and climbed over the six-foot fence, falling into Billi’s property. He used his cane to beat the pit bull, which allowed Billi to escape into her house.
“The second pit bull followed her into her house and continued the attack. The neighbor found a shovel and ran into the house. He used it to get the dog away from her.
“She then managed to get into her bathroom, closed the door, and called 911,” Lampman Jr. concluded.
“Cameron and her husband, Dwayne Woodard, are well known business owners,” Culverwell and Probert wrote. “They and their son Jackson established Woody’s BullPen Bar & Grille at the former Billy’s Bull Pen Tavern in Kennewick in 2018.”
Benton County Sheriff’s Detective Sergeant Horacio Gonzalez told Culverwell and Probert that the owner of the two pit bulls had been identified, “but the investigation is ongoing and no arrests have been made,” they reported.
Kennewick repealed pit bull ordinance in 2019
The Kennewick City Council on November 5, 2019 voted to repeal an ordinance that recognized pit bulls as “dangerous or potentially dangerous animals,” requiring that pit bull owners had to keep the pit bulls muzzled in public and post “Beware of Dog” signs at their homes.
The Kennewick ordinance was repealed under duress after the Washington state legislature earlier in 2019 required cities with breed-specific legislation pertaining to pit bulls and other dangerous dog breeds to exempt dogs who were certified as “good canine citizens” by the American Kennel Club or other organizations, some of them formed specifically to register and promote pit bulls.
Repeals of BSL precede attacks
Yakima, Moses Lake, Pasco, and Prosser, the Benton County seat, had already repealed breed-specific ordinances pertaining to pit bulls when the Washington state legislation passed.
Three of the four cities had already experienced fatal or disfiguring pit bull attacks within 30 months of their repeals of breed-specific ordinances.
Across the U.S., about 40% of communities that repeal breed-specific legislation have a fatal or disfiguring pit bull attack within 30 months.
Kennewick had one within ten months.
Loose pit bull attacked 2-year-old
“Jaxson Grayson, 2, was playing with his dog and his aunt’s dogs in her Kennewick front yard when the other dog attacked,” recounted Cameron Probert for the Tri-City Herald on August 29, 2020.
The dog, a free-roaming pit bull unknown to the Grayson family, inflicted eye and facial injuries on Jaxson Grayson before his family’s dogs drove the pit bull away.
“The attack happened about 9:30 a.m. on West 37th Avenue, near Horse Heaven Hills Middle School,” Probert noted.
“Bit arm & wouldn’t let go”
Kennewick had another close call on October 24, 2022, Cameron Probert reported, when a man whom police did not identify “asked his grandmother and her daughter to watch his [pit bull],” who “became aggressive about 4:45 p.m. and attacked the younger woman, who was in her early forties.”
The pit bull bit the younger woman’s arm and “wouldn’t let go,” police told Probert, until the grandmother stabbed the pit bull to death.
“The injured woman was taken to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries,” a police spokesperson said.
Precious & Vicious
Kennewick also had considerable experience with pit bull violence while the often-ignored breed-specific ordinance was in force.
Tri-City Herald staff writer Paula Horton, for instance, on February 20, 2008 reported that “A Kennewick man shot and killed his neighbor’s two pit bulls,” named Precious and Vicious, “after they got into his chicken coop, then charged at him, police said.”
“One pit bull was found dead in the fenced area of the chicken coop and the other was in the fenced backyard,” police spokesperson Mike Blatman said.
“He was protecting his family and our livestock,’ Laura Chandia said of her husband’s actions,” wrote Horton.
“It was the third time they were in our yard that day,” Chandia added.
Irrespective of the evidence, pit bull owners Obadiah and Michael Soto contended that the pit bulls should not have been shot.
Pit bulls attacked a Yorkie named Moose
“Mark Gidley won’t soon forget hearing his friend scream outside of his home in an unincorporated part of east Kennewick,” reported Michelle Dupler of the Tri-City Herald on December 31, 2012.
“He won’t forget running outside and seeing two pit bulls 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, 42, told the Herald that Moberg, 41, had come to his home in the 1000 block of South Gum Street to walk his Yorkshire terrier, named Moose, and had only been outside for a couple of minutes,” Dupler continued.
“I weigh 350 pounds & he took me down”
Gidley ran to the rescue, but the larger pit bull dropped him with a calf bite.
“I weigh 350 pounds and he took me down,” Gidley said.
“Gidley, Moberg and Moose managed to get away, and Gidley called 911 for an ambulance for Moberg, who was badly injured,” Dupler summarized.
A Benton County sheriff’s deputy shot both pit bulls “as they moved to attack him,” sheriff’s lieutenant Chuck Jones said.
Victim found in driveway
On June 15, 2014, the Tri-City Herald reported, “A woman was taken to Kadlec Regional Medical Center after being bitten by a pit bull at a Kennewick home, according to Kennewick police.
“Medics arrived to find Judy Phillips going in and out of consciousness at 8 a.m. as she lay in the driveway of a house,” with severe bites on her arm and leg.
“The pit bull was inside the house and another woman had locked herself and a young child inside a bedroom. Officers helped them out a bedroom window.”
On April 1, 2017, a pit bull charged an elderly woman and serious injured her sheltie at Columbia Park in Kennewick. Refusing to identify himself, the pit bull owner fled the scene.
Zachary S. Willis
Seventy-five miles straight north on Washington state route 395, Moses Lake had an ordinance restricting pit bulls in effect for 27 months in 2009-2011 before it was undone by a coalition of local and national pit bull advocates, presaging the multi-year drive that finally passed the Washington state ban on pit bull bans.
Zachary S. Willis of Moses Lake, 27, a self-proclaimed pit bull rescuer with little verifiable record of actual involvement with pit bulls, on October 8, 2020 became the first known pit bull fatality in Washington state since the ban on pit bull bans took effect on January 1, 2020.
The female pit bull owner, who was Willis’ landlord and a co-worker at a nearby Walmart store, also suffered “serious but non-life-threatening injuries consistent with a dog attack,” police said.
Prosser victims beat the odds
Thirty-five miles straight west of Kennewick, in Prosser, 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 earlier.
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, and has not occurred since then, either.
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.”
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