Man attacked by pit bulls in Kirkland park, opens fire

Man attacked by pit bulls in Kirkland park, opens fire
KIRKLAND, Wash. - A leisurely Saturday afternoon in the park quickly mutated into a real-life horror scene when three pit bulls attacked a man and his German shepherd without warning, police said.

During the unprovoked attack, the man pulled out his concealed weapon and opened fire, hitting one of the pit bulls and scaring off the others.

"If I didn't have my gun - I'd be dead right now," he later told KOMO News.

"It was an instant decision. It's not something I wanted to do. I love animals."

Kirkland police Sgt. Rob Saloum said the violent drama unfolded Saturday as a local man was playing catch with his 3-year-old German shepherd across from Juanita Bay Park, in the 9700 block of NE Juanita Drive.

At the same time, another man was there with his three unleashed pit bulls.

The owner of the German shepherd, Tim Lewis, said he threw a tennis ball for his dog - and that's when the pit bulls pounced.

"All hell broke loose," he said.

Lewis said the three dogs came loping up and began savagely attacking the German shepherd in a pack.

Lewis said he fought to protect his dog and at one point it appeared he may have scared off the pit bulls. The owner of the pit bulls, a Seattle man, also tried to pull the dogs off the German shepherd.

But the three suddenly came back - and this time they attacked both the German shepherd and the owner.

Lewis, a legal gun owner who has a concealed weapon permit, pulled out his handgun and opened fire at that point, shooting one of the pit bulls and scaring away the two others.

Charles McLennan was nearby and watched in horror as pit bulls attacked.

"If he didn't have that gun, he would probably be dead," McLennan said of Lewis.

The owner of the pit bulls, Justin LaValley, then took them away - and even shook Lewis' hand before leaving the scene. The injured pit bull was taken to a veterinarian for surgery and is expected to survive.

LaValley acknowledged that the dogs were fighting, but said Lewis should not have opened fire.

"At no time whatsoever was his life in danger," LaValley said.

The German shepherd sustained minor injuries in the attack, and Lewis said he also is taking the dog to the veterinarian for treatment.

Police are investigating the incident.