Bailey the kitty is back home after three days at the vet.
By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
CENTRALIA – The Centralia Police Department is investigating an early morning attack on a pair of cats that left one dead on Ham Hill Road.
Owner Cheryl Oakley said she awoke to barking so loud she thought it was inside her house. When she went outside, she saw two dogs in her yard, one of them with what looked like a possum or mole in its mouth.
Then she realized it was her 9-month-old Siamese kitty, she said.
“I screamed at them,” Oakley said. “When I saw it was her, I screamed louder and they ran away.”
Bailey the young cat was covered in blood. Her companion Roscoe the tabby was nowhere to be found, she said.
The strictly indoor cats had apparently pushed through a window screen and gotten outside, according to Oakley.
It was about 3 o’clock last Monday morning.
Oakley said a police officer showed up, then left. Five minutes later he returned with two dogs in his car which she identified as the ones she’d seen in her yard, she said.
When daylight came, Oakley found Roscoe dead across the road.
By mid-week, Bailey was home from the veterinary clinic and on the mend. But Oakley is left wondering what will become of the dogs.
“I don’t understand why they brought them back to the owner,” she said.
Police issued a citation – a civil infraction actually – to Felipe Loa-Vargas for dog at large, meaning a dog caught roaming off it’s owner’s property. The fine can be as high as $250.
But an animal control officer with the city is investigating further.
Boe Wohld, as the city’s special services officer, has dealt with animals in Centralia for more than 30 years.
Wohld said maybe seven or eight times a year they’ll get a report of an unprovoked attack by a dog on a domestic animal that ends in death.
Whether an offending dog gets impounded immediately for killing has to do with whether the act is witnessed, he said.
He checked on the two dogs this week, and saw they were not only in their pen, but chained up inside it, he said.
The city code about dogs that bite is patterned after state law.
In general, a dog gets one “free bite”, Wohld said. After that, if it does it again, the “dangerous dog” rules kick in.
And that’s a big deal, Wohld said.
If a dog is designated “dangerous”, the requirements put upon the owner are strict and expensive, according to Wohld. So strict, that when it occurs, most owners choose to give up their pet, he said.
Wohld guessed there are only about four or five such animals living in the city.
Among the requirements, according to Centralia’s code, are being kept in an enclosure with a secure top, proof of special liability insurance and in some cases having to wear a muzzle when taken for walks.
The “free bite” pass doesn’t apply if a dog inflicts severe injury on a human or kills a pet while off its property in an unprovoked attack.
Bailey the kitty was lucky.
Although the veterinarian surmised she was violently shaken, while her hindquarters were trapped in the dog’s jaws, she had no broken bones and didn’t require stitches for the tears along her backside.
“If you saw her when I brought her in, you would not think she would have made it,” Oakley said.
The vet kept her for three days, concerned about a deep wound in her groin, and possible spinal cord injury, according to Oakley.
She was sent home Wednesday with antibiotics and pain medication.
Roscoe has been buried. This weekend Oakley planned to bolt the window screens so her kitty can’t escape again.
“What if it was a kid?” Oakley asks, and then teared up. “It was a kid. It was mine.”
Wohld expected the animal control officer’s investigation could be finished as early as Monday.
Bailey, left, and Roscoe, right.