Dogs nearly maul jogger to death — and county could’ve prevented it, WA lawsuit says

A county in Washington could have done more to prevent a dog attack that nearly left a jogger dead, according to a lawsuit.

Gyongyi Maas was jogging in King County on Feb. 22, 2022, when she was “viciously” attacked by two dogs that were living at a nuisance property, says the lawsuit, which was filed on March 21.

Neighbors and people in the community, about 15 miles northeast of Tacoma, had repeatedly reported the property and the dogs to law enforcement and animal control in the years and months leading up to the attack, the lawsuit says. The property was known to have squatters living in the house as well as “aggressive” dogs that were often seen “charging” at neighbors, according to the lawsuit.

Two people who were living at the property were repeatedly cited for animal control violations, but the dogs were never impounded, according to the lawsuit. While county officials ordered the dogs’ owners to remove the animals from the area, officials never had the dogs microchipped or permanently took them away from their owners, according to the lawsuit.

“King County had notice and was very aware of the continued presence of vicious dogs on the subject property —dogs that ‘repeatedly attacked innocent persons in vicinity of the subject property, constituting a nuisance,’ ” the lawsuit says.

A spokesperson for the county declined to comment.

The attack

Maas went for a jog in the neighborhood at around 11:15 a.m. on Feb. 22, 2022, the lawsuit says.

As she approached the nuisance property, “two large dogs ran out from the property, crossed the street, and started viciously attacking her in the street,” the lawsuit says.

The dogs dragged her to the ground, bit her “legs, torso, arms, head, and face;” broke bones in her arms, tore flesh from her leg, ripped out her hair and pulled off her clothing, according to the lawsuit.

“Terrified” neighbors tried to help her as the dogs dragged her through the street, according to the lawsuit. Several neighbors called 911, the lawsuit said. One of the dogs bit one of the neighbors, who then went back to his home, got in his vehicle and tried to scare the dogs off of Maas by driving as close to them as possible and honking his horn.

The dogs “dragged her lifeless body like a rag doll” back toward the property, according to the lawsuit.

Deputies arrived on scene about 15 minutes after the attack began. One of the deputies yelled at one of the dogs attacking Maas, causing it to charge at him, according to the lawsuit. The deputy shot the dog, which scared the other dog off of Maas and caused it to run back to the property, the lawsuit says.

“While waiting for medical aid to arrive, Ms. Maas lay naked in the middle of the street, bleeding from multiple severe lacerations to her arms, legs, torso, and head,” the lawsuit says. “Broken bones were protruding from her forearm.”

She was taken to a hospital where she “underwent extensive surgical intervention and medical treatment,” according to the lawsuit. She suffered permanent injuries and will have to undergo additional surgeries in the future.

The aftermath

Maas recently went for a jog for the first time since the attack happened more than a year ago, one of her lawyers, Melanie Nguyen, told McClatchy News.

King County officials “negligently, willfully, and recklessly” exposed members of the Lakeland North community to danger by failing to remove the dogs from the nuisance property and address the issue of illegal squatters, the lawsuit says.

“I think in our profession it’s unfortunate that the government really doesn’t act and things don’t really change until someone’s seriously injured or killed,” Nguyen said. “So our hope is that counties, all government entities really, do their job.”

The lawsuit is seeking damages of an amount that is yet to be determined but including medical expenses, lost wages and other costs.

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