Pitbull attack on small dog spurs town action
December 19, 2019
Following an attack that led to the death of a small dog, the Town of Cathlamet is moving to enforce its ban of pitbulls in the town limits.
The attack occurred on the evening of Dec. 8 at the DeBriae Fire Hall. Carol Wegdahl was inside the hall to collect materials for a first aid class she was scheduled to teach. Her husband, Bob was outside loading materials into their car with their small mixed breed dog, Roxie, who was on a leash by the car. The sounds of children playing came from across the street.
Suddenly, Bob Wegdahl told the Cathlamet Town Council on Monday, a pitbull appeared out of nowhere. Startled, he jumped away, and the pitbull clamped its jaws around Roxie.
Carol Wegdahl told the council that she heard the sounds of a dog fight and ran outside to see Bob unsuccessfully trying to get the pitbull to release Roxie, A man appeared and pulled Roxie free.
The Wegdahls retreated into the fire hall where Carol examied Roxie. Although she wasn't bleeding, Carol could tell bones were broken and Roxie was bleeding internally.
The Wegdahls telephoned their vet, Dr. Katie Stephens, who lives in Cathlamet, and they took Roxie to her.
"It took Dr. Katie less than a minute to tell us Roxie's injuries were hopeless," Carol said, and they proceeded to put Roxie down.
"Approximately 20 minutes after the pitbull attack, Roxie died in my arms with Bob's arms around us both," Carol said.
The Wegdahls said they know the town has an ordinance prohibiting pitbulls inside the city limits, and they want people to know about the ordinance.
"We're here to get the word out," Bob Wegdahl said.
There are people keeping pitbulls in town, with two residing within two blocks of the Wegdahl residence on South Second Street, Carol said.
"Bob and I don't blame the pitbull that killed Roxie," she said. "These dogs have been bred to kill.
"I am here tonight to ask my neighbors to start reporting these pitbulls to the police. I can't begin to worry what if that pitbull had attacked one of the children it had been playing with."
The Wegdahls also said they had reported the incident to the Wahkiakum County Sheriff's Office, and two deputies investigated.
Sheriff Mark Howie said this week that the dog belonged to a man visiting the family that lives in the neighborhood. The man and dog aren't local residents and have left the area, he said, but the family is cooperating with the investigation.
Under local ordinances, a dog making such an attack is to be quarantined for observation, and if declared a dangerous dog, it must be secured at all times [see town's pitbull ordinance at https://cathlamet.municipal.codes/CMC/6.10].
Town Attorney Fred Johnson said he would check with the sheriff's office to see if there is adequate evidence to prosecute. The town has two applicable ordinances, one concerning pitbulls and the other concerning dangerous dogs.
However, the town currently has no operative municipal court where the cases would be tried. Johnson said he has been negotiating with Wahkiakum District Court Judge Heidi Heywood about providing municipal court service.