After two of his pit bulls ran loose and viciously mauled a senior citizen on Sept. 8, Travis Cunningham faces a rare felony charge because he was negligent with his dangerous dogs.

SeaTac Pit Bull Owner Charged With Possession of Dangerous Dog Felony

Posted on Nov 19, 2008

On the morning of September 8 in SeaTac, 72-year-old Huong Le was walking down the street after dropping her granddaughter off at her school bus stop when two loose pit bulls attacked her. She was rushed to the hospital with a crushed arm, severed ears, a broken jaw, and bite wounds that covered her entire body.

"I was scared to death. I thought I was going to die, that the dogs would kill me," Le later told police.

A neighbor called 911 and tried to help Le by hitting the dogs with a pitchfork. When King County Sheriff's deputies arrived on the scene, they shot and killed both dogs.  

Now, according to the Seattle Times, the owner of the two dogs is facing a rare felony charge for the possession of dangerous dogs. On Friday, Travis Cunningham, 36, was also charged with the illegal possession of a stolen firearm.

"He is being charged with knowing this dog is dangerous and failing to take appropriate actions to keep this dog from harming someone," said Ian Goodhew, chief of staff for King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg.

Cunningham told investigators that he didn't know the dogs to be aggressive, although he also told police that the dogs did not like males. Two female pit bulls were taken from Cunningham's home by King County Animal Care and Control officers.

Eric John Makus, a man raised by Le, was happy with the charges, but was also concerned about the lack of breed-specific dog laws and bans on dangerous dogs in the Seattle, Washington area. He told reporters that he plans to discuss the idea of banning dangerous dog breeds with local and statewide legislators.

"You have to give a lot of credit to the detective and the prosecuting attorney for conducting an exhaustive investigation in pursuit of justice," Makus said. "Let this be the shining symbol to dog owners if they don't comply with the laws to keep their animals fenced and muzzled."

Breed-specific dog laws are controversial. Seattle Animal Shelter reports that pit bulls account for a disproportionate number of bites in the area, with the breed responsible for 22 percent of reported bites although they only represent four percent of the dog population. However, many dog lovers and animal activists often claim that the vast majority of the dogs are well-behaved and have responsible owners.

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