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Yesterday, a Kittitas County Superior Court granted the Stritmatter Firm’s summary judgment motion, finding Grant County legally liable for a 2021 dog attack that seriously injured victim Carla Gray.

The dog at issue, Hemi, was a pit bull with a lengthy and documented history of attacking and injuring both animals and humans. In 2014 it was involved in two attacks on a neighbor’s German shepherd. And in March 2019, it attacked and severely injured a human in a disturbingly similar manner as the attack suffered by Ms. Gray two years later.

On summary judgment, we argued that when that 2019 attack happened, Grant County’s “Dangerous Dog Ordinance,” GCC 9.07 et seq., required the County to engage in a multi-step process of having Hemi declared “dangerous” or “potentially dangerous.” Yet the County did not do so. Had the County followed its procedures and declared Hemi dangerous, the dog would have been removed from the county or put down and would not have been able to injure Ms. Gray in 2021.

The Court agreed with us. As succinctly stated by the court in a letter accompanying its ruling:

“Notwithstanding this unequivocal directive in the law, Grant county allowed a dangerous dog to remain in the County, even after the County was clearly on notice of this dog’s propensities. The Grant County Code does not provide for any method for allowing a dangerous dog to remain in the county, and therefore summary judgment in favor of the Plaintiff is granted, and the county’s motion for summary judgment is denied.”

Lead Attorney Gemma Zanowski, who has handled serious dog attack cases for over a decade, comments on the safety policies behind these dangerous dog rules: 

“We covet dogs in our society and most companion dogs are friendly and hugely improve the lives of their families. However, the types of dogs that are reported for aggression and frequently on the radar of county or city animal control are threats to the community. Their owners have failed them and they are safety liabilities. A dog’s past behavior is a clear indication of the dog’s likely future behavior. An attack by a dog with a history of aggression can lead to absolutely horrific injuries and in some cases death. These tragedies are preventable. Keeping dogs with aggressive histories from repeatedly harming unsuspecting citizens is exactly why ordinances like Grant County’s exist. And it is vital to hold counties and cities accountable when they fail in their duties to protect people from dangerous dogs.”

Plaintiff is represented by Gemma Zanowski and Lisa Benedetti of Stritmatter Kessler Koehler Moore, and Karen Lindholdt of Lindholdt Law PLLC. Paralegal: Krysta Renton.

Judge’s Decision Letter
Order Granting Plaintiff’s Partial Summary Judgement
Order Denying Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgement