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Fort Ebey State Park on Whidbey is closed because of vicious dogs

Fort Ebey State Park on Whidbey Island has been closed because of a pair of aggressive dogs that attacked two hikers Tuesday.

Park Ranger Brett Bayne said the park will remain closed until the two loose dogs have been removed. He's spend the last day chasing the dogs, but hasn't been able to catch them. He said they've been very aggressive towards him, forcing him to jump back into his vehicle.

The rangers found a pile of dog food near where they dogs have been seen.

"It's apparent these dogs have been abandoned," said Carol Barnes, Island County animal control officer. "It's very sad."

Lauryn Wilson, a native Oak Harbor resident, came home from college at Central Washington University and decided to bring a friend, Brad Durham, to Fort Ebey State Park for a hike Tuesday afternoon.

They were on a trail when the two dogs, both without collars, ran up to them. She said they looked like mixed-breed dogs; the larger male appeared to be a St. Bernard and German shepherd mix, while the smaller female looked like a pitbull mix.

Wilson said the dogs kept growling and charging at them. They tried to walk away, but the dogs continued being aggressive. She said she thought they might be trying to get help for an injured owner or a litter of puppies.

"The dogs, I thought, were acting so strangely," she said.

Wilson said she started following the dogs, which seemed to make them happy. But when Durham followed behind, the dogs became angry and started attacking him. They both bit him on the hands and legs. The larger dog drew blood with a bite to the leg.

"It seemed like they have a problem with men," she said. "Maybe they were beaten by a man."

Since the dogs seemed threatened by Durham, Wilson told him to run for help in the opposite direction while she continued on with the dogs. She said she ran with them through the woods; they seemed pleased and weren't aggressive towards her.

Wilson found a restroom and locked herself in, then called her mother for help. Her mother alerted park rangers to what was going on and then drove to the park.

Wilson said her mother drove her and Durham to the hospital, where he got stitches for the bite.

Bayne said he's not sure how the the rangers will deal with the dogs. He said Barnes and a couple of detectives from the Island County Sheriff's Office joined the search for the temperamental canines Wednesday, but didn't see them. Bayne said the plan was to catch the dogs with snares, but he's not sure it will work because of the dogs' aggression.

"I think it would be pretty difficult," he said.

Bayne said it's not unheard of for people to abandon pets at parks. In fact, he's adopted a couple of abandoned pets over the years. But he's never before heard of a park being closed because of aggressive dogs.

Barnes emphasized that it's a crime to abandon a dog. She encourages anyone who knows who may own the dogs to call 679-9567 and request to contact animal control.

Community Events, April 2014

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