Family mastiff attacks two siblings and babysitter in Hoquiam

The three children who were bitten in a terrifying attack by a dog Friday afternoon in Hoquiam were treated at Grays Harbor Community Hospital, but have all been released.

A large mastiff mauled and bit two siblings and their babysitter in the 2300 block of Sumner Ave. Hoquiam Police Sgt. Jeff Salstrom rescued the children, first hitting the dog with a Taser charge then shooting it three times with his service pistol to stop it from attacking, according to preliminary police reports. Injured were a 3-year-old girl, her 8-year-old brother and a 15-year-old female who was watching them.

The dog, which belonged to the family, was euthanized by a veterinarian called to the scene, the report said. Mastiff’s are very large dogs. Full grown males are often over 200 pounds.

Leslie Lujan, mother of the two youngest children, said on Facebook Friday night that her son and daughter were on the road to recovery.

“I just want to let everyone know the kids are doing fine,” Lujan said. “My son is very sore and my daughter is sore, too.”

She thanked both the babysitter and responding officers from the Hoquiam Police Department for protecting her children.

A 2-year-old brother and his grandmother, also home at the time, were not attacked, police said.

The dog, owned by the parents, is “normally kept inside, but somehow escaped the home and possibly became enraged by the children who were jumping on a trampoline in the yard,” said Chief Jeff Myers in a news release.

In his preliminary report, Sgt. Salstrom said he “could hear frantic screaming over the noise of my patrol car, even with my windows up,” coming from the backyard of the fenced residence on the corner of 23rd and Sumner shortly after 4 p.m.

He could not unlatch the gate and jumped the fence. A fawn-colored mastiff was “biting the head” of an 8-year-old boy, as his 3-year-old sister and their 15-year-old babysitter, who was armed with a rake, sought refuge in an open shed.

“I yelled at the dog as I ran up and it let go of the (boy’s) head but then immediately transitioned its bite to his thigh. (The boy) appeared to be bleeding profusely from the head and his jeans were covered in blood,” Salstrom said.

He drew his Taser because the boy was in the line of fire. “The Taser probes struck the dog causing it to release its bite but (the dog) was not completely immobilized.” It ran toward Salstrom and through some bushes. Salstrom thinks one of the Taser wires may have broken as “it appeared the Taser lost its effectiveness.”

The dog turned and charged him, “its face covered in blood.” Fearing for his safety and that of the children, “I drew my duty weapon and fired one round at the dog” which yelped and turned away.

Salstrom grabbed the boy and handed him to his grandmother who had opened the back door. As he returned to help the girls, “the dog again came at me. I fired a second round at the dog which I believe struck it in the chest … The dog turned sideways to me and I fired a third round into its side, behind its right shoulder … This caused the dog to briefly stagger before it ran behind the shed.”

Salstrom called an ambulance and additional police units.

The babysitter “was crying hysterically and pleading for me to help them. She was holding the rake in front of her. (The 3-year-old) appeared to be frozen in fear,” still but shaking visibly. The babysitter had been bitten in her groin area, the small girl had bite marks on her torso and leg, the preliminary report said.

“Because she was the smallest child, I picked her up and carried her toward the fence. (The 15-year-old) begged me not to leave her alone and told me that she was scared. I told her to hold the rake and that I would be right back. I could hear the dog making labored breathing noises behind the shed,” Salstrom’s report says.

Salstrom ran to the gate and yelled for a neighbor, identified as Robert Jimenez, to take the child. Salstrom ran back, and picked the teenager up in a fireman’s carry. “Officer Bryant” kicked the gate open and they were able to exit as Hoquiam Fire Department personnel arrived to attend to the boy.

Salstrom took the sister back from Jimenez and gave her to off-duty Aberdeen Fire Department paramedic Monica Myers, who was on the scene with her husband Chief Myers.

All three were transported to the hospital. Raintree veterinarian Dr. Scott Brown and Vet Tech Lisa Dick came to the scene and humanely euthanized the dog at the owner’s request, Myers said. Because the dog was euthanized, “the city will not pursue a dangerous dog declaration against the animal,” the chief added.

The dog’s immunizations were current, the owners told police. Myers said no complaints had been made to police prior to the incident.

“This was a dynamic incident and I want to thank the neighbors and other citizens who came to the aid of Sgt. Salstrom as he rescued the children from the yard. I know this was a traumatic incident for everyone involved, especially the children, and it will now be a matter of time and patience as the family focuses on healing,” Myers said.

Detective Sgt. Shane Krohn has been assigned to continue the investigation. Pursuant to policy, the Firearms Review Board will review the shooting.