Report of second valley dog attack upsets neighborhood

Posted: Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Animal control officers are investigating an alleged attack on Sunday night by a dog that lunged at a 5-year-old boy in January.

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Sylina Jackson, a 10-year-old girl, was honored in February for saving her little brother from the original dog attack in the Mendenhall Valley. Sylina's mother, April Jackson, said Monday her daughter saw an 11-year-old girl fending off an attack by the same dog Sunday.

"It's half a year later and nothing has changed," April Jackson said.

Sam Westika, the owner of the dog, said the first attack was exaggerated and he didn't even know that Patch, a 112-year-old husky-Lab mix, was accused of attacking anyone Sunday night, even though he was with the dog.

"I'm dealing with a couple of drama queens," Westika said.

Chava Lee, executive director of the Gastineau Humane Society, said Monday the witness statements are conflicting, but even after animal control officers sort out what happened Sunday night, there are limits to what her agency can do.

The Jacksons live next door to the dog and its owner in the 4500 block of Kanat'a Deyi Street in the shadow of Thunder Mountain. In February, Capital City Fire and Rescue Chief Eric Mohrmann recognized Sylina Jackson for courageous actions in defending her brother, Larry Jackson, from an attack by the dog in January.

Sunday's incident wasn't as serious as the January encounter, said Shawna Dunlap, the mother of Nicollette, 11, and Harmony Dunlap, 5, victims in the alleged encounter Sunday. The girls were not injured as seriously as Sylina Jackson, who had puncture wounds and was taken to Bartlett Regional Hospital by ambulance.

In the Sunday incident, Harmony lost a tooth, Dunlap said. The girls were taken to the hospital Sunday by their father, Michael.

But the incidents had similarities, Shawna Dunlap said. In both cases the dog initially went after the younger child's face, she said.

"I just think that's unreasonable for a dog to do, going after little kids' faces," Dunlap said.

She said the dog bit Harmony in the knee and Nicollette in the hip and thigh, bruising both of the girls.

"I personally thought the dog was gone," she said. "I put it out of my mind."

Westika, the dog's owner, said he complied with the orders from the Gastineau Humane Society to have his dog muzzled on a chain and have it on a short, dangerous-dog leash. The dog was neutered after the first incident.

"There's no way in my mind I would let that dog attack two kids," he said.

He was taking Patch to the Mendenhall Glacier to chase balls when the children walked in front of his house. The dog saw the children and ran up to them, putting his paws on them, but not biting them, he said.

He quickly collected the dog and took it to the glacier, he added.

Juneau Police Capt. Jerry Nankervis said the report was referred to animal control officers with the Gastineau Humane Society after officers determined there was no allegation that an attack was ordered by the dog's owner.

City ordinances provide little authority for dealing with dangerous dogs, said Lee of the Gastineau Humane Society. Animal control would only have the authority to destroy the dog if the owner voluntarily gave it up, she said.

People can take civil action against people with dogs they believe to be dangerous, and Lee said she would have no problem with that.

"You can be cited if your dog doesn't have a rabies tag, and you can get a pretty hefty fine," she said. "(But) you can be cited for having a dangerous dog and have no fine at all."

Shawna Dunlap said she doesn't want the dog destroyed. She just wants it out of the neighborhood.

"I'm an animal lover," she said.

Westika said the dog has been falsely accused, but he will get rid of it to avoid having to deal with his neighbors further. His daughter will be disappointed when she comes back from her vacation.

"My dog's going to be gone, probably tomorrow," he said Monday.

• Tony Carroll can be reached at tony.carroll@juneauempire.com.



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