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Dog bites runner in Island Center Forest, triggering concerns

Concern about unleashed, aggressive dogs in Island Center Forest is mounting after a runner last week was bitten on the stomach by a large dog as he tried to run past it.

Alex Swenson, an avid runner, was making his way through the forest’s circuitous trails when he came upon three dogs that seemed unfriendly; the owners were not in sight. A few minutes later he encountered three women — presumably the owners — and continued running, he said.

The trail circled around and he came upon the women and the dogs again, this time from behind. As he tried to make it past the group, calling to the women that he was behind them, the three dogs turned toward him and one leapt up and bit him, he said.

Swenson, a father of two, detailed the incident in an email, including two photographs of the puncture wound, and sent it to one of the county’s park managers. The email made it to Kevin Brown, the director of the parks division within the county’s Department of Natural Resources and Parks, who said on Friday that he was troubled by the incident.

“I think it’s very unfortunate that this took place,” he said. “We take it very seriously.”

A volunteer group, Friends of Island Center Forest, has been grappling with the question of dogs in the 370-acre forested expanse. Dogs are allowed in Island Center Forest if they’re on leash; they currently are not to be on the loose, however, even if they’re considered under voice command, Brown said. Dogs are allowed off leash on county-owned property only at designated dog parks.

But the incident, he said, could help to remind dog owners of the need to keep their dogs under control.

“There’s some opportunity for dialogue,” he said.

The county has contracted with the King County Sheriff’s Office for additional patrolling of its parks, Brown added. That, plus what he called “peer-to-peer interaction,” could help to remind people to keep their dogs on leash.

Swenson, for his part, doesn’t necessarily think all dogs at Island Center Forest need to be leashed.

“I just want people to be a little smarter. There are just a few bad apples out there, and unfortunately, I ran into one of them,” he said.

Alex Swenson, an avid runner, was making his way through the forest’s circuitous trails when he came upon three dogs that seemed unfriendly; the owners were not in sight. A few minutes later he encountered three women — presumably the owners — and continued running, he said.

The trail circled around and he came upon the women and the dogs again, this time from behind. As he tried to make it past the group, calling to the women that he was behind them, the three dogs turned toward him and one leapt up and bit him, he said.

Swenson, a father of two, detailed the incident in an email, including two photographs of the puncture wound, and sent it to one of the county’s park managers. The email made it to Kevin Brown, the director of the parks division within the county’s Department of Natural Resources and Parks, who said on Friday that he was troubled by the incident.

“I think it’s very unfortunate that this took place,” he said. “We take it very seriously.”

A volunteer group, Friends of Island Center Forest, has been grappling with the question of dogs in the 370-acre forested expanse. Dogs are allowed in Island Center Forest if they’re on leash; they currently are not to be on the loose, however, even if they’re considered under voice command, Brown said. Dogs are allowed off leash on county-owned property only at designated dog parks.

But the incident, he said, could help to remind dog owners of the need to keep their dogs under control.

“There’s some opportunity for dialogue,” he said.

The county has contracted with the King County Sheriff’s Office for additional patrolling of its parks, Brown added. That, plus what he called “peer-to-peer interaction,” could help to remind people to keep their dogs on leash.

Swenson, for his part, doesn’t necessarily think all dogs at Island Center Forest need to be leashed.

“I just want people to be a little smarter. There are just a few bad apples out there, and unfortunately, I ran into one of them,” he said.

 

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