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Woman mauled by dogs at RV camp begs Seattle City Council for help

(KIRO 7)

An illegal RV encampment resulted in one SoDo business owner being mauled by dogs — and the city has still not forced the RVs to move.

Leslie Sheldon noticed a few months ago that two RVs had set up camp across the street from the business she owns in SoDo. She was alarmed by the behavior she witnessed, notably the way that they let their three aggressive dogs run around freely.

“I’ve been very concerned with their actions and the way that they’ve reacted to us,” she said.

Sheldon called Seattle City Councilmember M. Lorena Gonzales’ office, as well as the Seattle Police Department and King County Animal Control, over and over for the past few months, yet the RVs remained. She worried for months that a violent incident would occur.

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“I’ve warned them that something was going to happen, and it did,” she said. “And I still feel like they’re not going to do anything.”

Last Friday, Sheldon said, “things just escalated to the worst case scenario.” While Sheldon was taking her 150-pound Great Dane, Lily, for a routine walk, one of the RV inhabitants opened the door and let the three attack dogs out.

“They literally came full bore running at me and my dog, teeth bared down, and just ready to take us down,” Sheldon said. “And that’s exactly what they did.”

Two of the dogs attacked Sheldon’s dog, Lily, giving the Great Dane over 15 puncture wounds that needed stitches. While Sheldon was trying to tear the two dogs off of Lily, the third dog — which Sheldon believed was “the most aggressive of the pack” — charged at her.

“After he basically split my finger in two, he then decided to keep coming back,” she said. “And fortunately I was able to turn, so he just primarily got my one leg and an elbow pretty good.”

While the dog viciously ripped into her skin, Sheldon said, at least six of the RV-dwellers were simply standing on the sidewalk and watching.

“They were all standing on the sidewalk just watching this whole thing play down while I was screaming for my life, begging somebody to help me, to call 911, asking them to get control of their dogs, and they did absolutely nothing but stand there and watch it happen,” she recalled.

Because she was bleeding so profusely, Sheldon’s son rushed her to Harborview Medical Center for treatment.

Sheldon said that what is killing her is that she has been repeatedly calling the city and begging for anyone to hear her pleas. She even made sure to go about things the right way and not take up the Seattle Police Department’s emergency line.

“We had been literally calling for months now — calling the Seattle Police Department, reporting 911, telling them it’s not an emergency so we could dispatch to a different department,” she said. “And they’re really wonderful to work with, but there is only so much that they can do, and only so much that the city will actually enforce.”

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Now, even after this local business owner was mauled by dogs, the RVs are still sitting on the same SoDo street. Sheldon has been told that the RVs will be asked to leave on Friday, but she knows that they will be back after a few days.

“To be honest with you, I don’t even know if they really got a citation,” Sheldon said.

Tired of squatters — she does not call them “homeless,” as she feels they choose to take over city streets — making life dangerous for innocent residents, Sheldon testified in front of the Seattle City Council at Monday’s meeting, while still recovering from her injuries. She said that she after the attack, she has been “pushed too far” and now is “not going to stay quiet anymore.”

“I am sick and tired of being a forgotten voice … what about the people who are law-abiding, tax-paying, hard-working individuals, that are just trying to get by day-to-day and live in a very safe environment?” Sheldon said. “That’s all we want — that’s all we want. But we have no rights; it’s such a double standard in this city that it’s gotten out of control.”

Sheldon is determined that she is “not going to be a victim anymore” and will speak out until people vote for a change on the Seattle City Council.

“Every single one of those people on the city council should not get re-elected ever, for any position,” she said. “They are totally ineffective, and they do not have the heart and soul of every citizen in this area … they don’t care about us.”

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