The mother of an 11-year-old boy was forced to watch in horror while he was pulled off his scooter by a "vicious" dog on Sunday afternoon.
"We were just walking down the street minding our own business and it was just so out of the blue with no warning," said Jody Weatherill, who also had an infant and three other young children with her.
Weatherill said the stroll down Eliot Drive turned into a nightmare when "Rocko," a Chow-mix owned by Linda Pearson, allegedly lunged at her son who was traveling on the roadway ahead of the small group. At that point Weatherill said she was forced to watch helplessly while the dog pulled the boy to the ground by his pants leg and then appeared ready to attack his face.
"I didn't know what to do because I had all of these children to protect and I knew I couldn't get there in time," said Weatherill, who used her cell phone to call for help.
However, she said the dog left the terrified boy and began to run toward her and the other children. She was spared from that pending threat by an unknown motorcyclist who swerved into the animal's path and then had to swing his helmet to ward off an attack that had become directed towards him.
Meanwhile two city police officers arrived from the nearby Hood River Sports Club and the dog jumped back over the four-foot chain link fence into its own yard. About that same time, Weatherill said another passing motorist stopped her Subaru and popped the hatch, offering a refuge for the traumatized children. She said that proved a "blessing" since the dog again jumped the fence into the street and evaded a police pursuit. The dog was turned in by Pearson after returning home later that afternoon and, according to police reports, displayed no further sign of aggression. Officers noted in their report that Pearson habitually uses a leash when walking the canine or restrains the dog with a heavy chain in the yard.
Weatherill said her son sustained only a scraped knee from the experience, but he no longer wants to walk home from school and worries daily the dog will be running loose.
"It's springtime and kids are going to be out on their scooter and bicycles and they should be able to do that without fear," she said.
Hood River County Animal Control Officer Becky Hoffman said Pearson faces a $500 "bail" plus a mandatory court appearance where the judge will determine Rocko's fate and could impose further monetary penalties.
"Dog owners are responsible by law to do whatever it takes to to keep their pet under their immediate control at all times," said Hoffman, who is called out every work day to pick up at least one dog running loose through Hood River.
"A dog does not have to attack someone to be declared vicious under our ordinance, it only has to be menacing enough where someone feels their safety has been threatened," she said.