Austin Woman Sues Over Dog Attack

Jaws of a dog

It was just last month that Erica Curtis says she was out for a walk with her 10-year-old English Bulldog named Boomskie on a trail in Southwest Austin when they were both attacked by two pit bulls.

Now, Curtis is seeking monetary damages of more than $1-million.

“I just knew the situation wasn’t going to be good,” Curtis told KVUE in an interview this week.

In that interview, Curtis detailed how it all began, claiming Boomskie and she were walking near Commons Ford Road and Cuernavaca Drive when the dogs first approached.  After yelling to get the owner’s attention, Curtis said the dogs lunged from both sides, severely injuring her hands and leaving her dog with injuries that required three surgeries.

The owner of those two pit bulls has been identified as Patricia Sanford, and police records show her dogs have been involved in three similar incidents dating back to 2014.  In two of those cases, the dogs were quarantined at the request of authorities.  However, despite those previous attacks, the dogs were allegedly roaming free on the day they attacked Curtis and her dog.

Curtis’ attorney, Jason McMinn, also spoke with KVUE.

“The fact that these dogs were still being allowed to roam around unleashed blows my mind,” McMinn said.

Austin Animal Shelter has not reported the pit bulls as being surrendered following this latest incident.

The case in Austin ties to a larger issue currently before the Texas Supreme Court. 

For 18 months, a dog named Rusty has been confined to a cage by Dallas Animal Services.  According to the city, the dog was taken to an adoption event in December 2017 at Klyde Warren Park in Dallas.  While there, the dog bit a 2-year-old boy who walked up to pet him.  The mother claims the dog lunged at the child unprovoked, but the nonprofit Dallas Pets Alive says the child was left unattended and startled the dog — which was leashed at the time — when he walked up to pet him.

The dog was deemed to be a danger and was ordered to be euthanized, but Dallas Pets Alive filed an appeal seeking a higher authority ruling than that of a municpal court judge.  In response, the city filed its own appeal, leaving the fate of Rusty unknown and, now, in the hands of the state’s highest court.

The Dallas case could change the way dog bite cases are handled across Texas.  While the City of Dallas continues to argue that a municpal court judge should always have the final ruling, the Texas Supreme Court could rule in favor of Dallas Pets Alive, creating a precedent in which dogs that are ordered to be euthanized by a city could find a reprieve from higher court rulings.

Advocates for Rusty believe the appeals process is necessary in order to protect dogs since municipal judges ultimately work for the city  — the very entity that seeks a ruling in their favor.

CLICK HERE to read the most recent opinion filed by the Supreme Court in December.

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