VANCOUVER, WASHINGTON -- A 13-year-old boy was reported in critical condition at Legacy Emanuel Hospital Thursday evening after a pit bull terrier attacked him that morning in his back yard.
Clark County animal control officials called it the worst dog attack in their memories.
The boy, identified as Van L. Knudson, was attempting to contain two pit bull terriers that had gotten loose -- either from their tethers or their kennels -- when the attack happened, said Dennis Davidson, lead animal control officer for Clark County Animal Protection and Control.
The family home, a tan manufactured house with red trim, is on a busyroad in what once was a quiet pasture, northeast of Vancouver.
The dogs belong to a relative of Matthew and Tori Knudson, whom authorities identified as the boy's parents. They were keeping the dogs for the relative while she looked for permanent housing, Davidson said.
The incident occurred at 8:40 a.m. in the 19000 block of Northeast 58th Street, when one of the dogs bit the boy on his forearm, Davidson said. At that moment, a family friend, whom authorities identified as Ron Ahlquist, 33, of Vancouver, arrived at the Knudson home to park his car and pick up his work truck.
"He tried to get the dogs to chase him," Davidson said, "but when that didn't work, he went up to the front door and started banging, trying to alert the parents."
The parents called 9-1-1 and found their 9mm handgun inside the home. Davidson said Ahlquist took the gun into the back yard, where he found one dog mauling the back of the boy's neck.
"The dog that wasn't biting the youngster started chasing Ahlquist, so he shot that dog," Davidson said. "Then the other dog turned and started after him, so he shot the second dog."
The boy, punctured by multiple bites, was taken by ambulance to Emanuel, where a spokeswoman said he was in pediatric intensive care but would not release any other information. A news release from the Clark County Sheriff's Office said he was in critical condition. The boy's parents could not be reached for comment. A family friend who answered the door at the family home said the parents had asked her to say nothing about the incident.
The two dead dogs -- one female, one male -- were taken to the Southwest Washington Health District to be tested for rabies, because the owner was not present, and the dogs' health history was not available, Davidson said.
He said he's seen some "pretty bad wounds and incidents" in his 13 years with animal control, but "no one in critical condition."
Davidson said there had been no previous complaints about the two pit bulls that attacked the Knudson boy on Thursday.
"Something went wrong," he said. "We're just not sure what yet. Those dogs got loose, and the boy was trying to help, and everything went wrong."
In March, a 10-year-old Vancouver girl required rabies shots after a yellow dog, possibly a Labrador retriever, bit her while she was in-line skating. And in September 2000, an 11-year-old girl required four stitches after two American pit bull terriers attacked her in Cascade Park.
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