On Sunday February 13th on a rural road northwest of Portland, a husband and wife riding a tandem bicycle were attacked by a dog.
According to the victims, who’ve asked to remain anonymous, they were rounding a bend on NW Moreland Road just before the top at NW Skyline Boulevard in the hills west of Highway 30 about five miles northwest of the Sauvie Island Bridge, when they saw two large dogs at the end of a driveway. “Both dogs ran toward us,” one of the victims shared in an email to Multnomah County Animal Services they forwarded to BikePortland. “The dark grey dog ran up to me and bit me in the left thigh and then immediately bit my left buttock.”
“We were screaming, the dogs were barking. No one came out of the house the dogs seemed attached to… I shudder to think what would have happened if we would have fallen or started fighting back? Would it have escalated? We were both quite shaken.”
While most often dogs are all bark and no bite, many bike riders can relate to this nightmarish scenario.
For the person bit on the 13th, the nightmare continues as they deal with emergency room bills, ongoing trauma from the attack and care of several bad scratches and puncture wounds.
They’ve also learned that they’re not the only one who’s had a run-in with these same dogs at this same location.
We’re in touch with another victim who was attacked by these dogs on December 8th, 2020 (and who also asked that we don’t use their name).
“I was attacked by the two dogs viciously and unprovoked. She laughed about how she knew the dogs ‘really hated cyclists’.”
— December 2020 dog attack victim
“I used to ride Moreland at least once a week, sometimes more. It was my favorite local road to ride, due to its beauty, quietness, and climbing and descending,” they shared in an email to BikePortland. “I was attacked by the two dogs viciously and unprovoked. They were in the middle of the road, in front of the driveway to the house. I was bitten twice, and had to get emergency medical care.”
In this victim’s case, they said they returned to the home where the dogs lived and talked to the owners the day after it happened. “She laughed about how she knew the dogs ‘really hated cyclists’,” they recalled of the meeting.
When this person posted about the attack on the Facebook page of the bike club they belong too, another person chimed in to say they too had been attacked by the same dogs.
We’ve contacted that victim and they confirmed they were attacked by the same dogs on March 16th 2020. One year after the attack they returned to the same stretch of NW Moreland Rd and noticed yet another victim had posted a sign near the home of their bite wound and a phone number asking the owners of the dogs to contact them.
It’s not surprising that a lot of Portland-area riders have come in contact with these dogs. This stretch of NW Moreland is part of a very popular loop route. You might recall how it was featured in our Tri-County Escape Route ride. (Incidentally this also the same road where a man reported that he was stalked by a driver back in May 2019.)
What is surprising is that despite numerous run-ins with road users (and we’ve heard even neighbors are afraid to go near the property), the homeowners still allow the dogs to be unrestrained.
All the victims mentioned above have reported the dogs and their owners to Multnomah County Animal Services.
The person bit earlier this month shared emails they’ve exchanged with Animal Services Officer Colleen Eder as part of an official complaint about the dogs.
On February 18th, Ofcr Eder replied:
“I spoke to the owner. It looks like the dogs broke through a window surprisingly enough. All of the repairs have been made and he knows he will be getting three citations… And two more citations for the dogs even being out.”
The 2020 victim is very skeptical about the broken window story, and when reached this week for comment, they were very frustrated to learn the dogs are still attacking people. “The owners knew their dogs attacked cyclists, yet the dogs were loose in the road. This is totally inexcusable. How have the owners gotten away with this?”
Multnomah County’s Dangerous and Potentially Dangerous Dogs program is supposed to identify and remove these threats. Animal control officers assign a threat level of 1 to 4 with 4 being the most dangerous. According to Eder, the dog that bit these riders is classified as a, “level 4 potentially dangerous dog.”
The program website states, “We have found this program to be very successful in preventing further incidents. The overwhelming majority of classified dog owners comply with restrictions and most dogs do not have further incidents.”
That has not been the case with these owners.
We’re still not clear when the level 4 designation was made or if any further punishments are in store for the dog’s owners given the repeat offenses.
We’ve reached out to Ofcr Eder and will update this story when we hear back.
If you want to be prepared in the event of a dog attack, try yelling at the dog or squirting them with a water bottle. For more tips, check out this thread on the local Unpaved email list.
UPDATE, 2/24: We’ve learned of yet another couple who were attacked by the same dogs on February 13th. One of the victims has posted about it in the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association Google Group.
***comment deleted. There is no need for labeling people or making generalizations like that Jason. Please try again. – Jonathan***
And I am absolutely sure that by politicizing the issue you are only undermining our cause. Let the actions of all individuals involved be judged on their own merit.
Back in “The Day”, the Silca frame pump with its heavy, sturdy brass head was pretty effective against canine aggression. The compact Lezyne or the Co2 whippits I use now are about as dangerous as holding my hand in the shape of a gun and going “pew-pew”.
This story makes me think about some of the dogs I’ve seen (and heard) up in the hills around Gaston and Banks and North Plains lately and make me realize that something other than water from a bottle or my angry words may be necessary if I want to avoid puncture wounds and rabies shots in my future.
I hope these animals are dealt with properly. And I hope the bite victims heal quickly both physically and internally.
Ah, yes. The Silca frame pump probably got used on dog heads as much as it did on tires.
ive done delivery for a while- I heard holding something out a dog would bite first. . from a post person
That’s terrible and relatable even if I’ve only had close calls. Even that much is scary enough, and there are one or two stretches of road I just don’t go up anymore just to keep it that way.
Ten years ago, I got chased up the last bit of Louden toward Larch Mountain Road and it is the one day of my life that I have ever been a good climber. Last year, coming off the mountain, it seems that the dog is still there and hasn’t slowed down.
I’d like to know other hotspots and tips, but that thread isn’t public.
When riding rural I carry a palm size squeeze bottle full of ammonia. Stops ’em dead in their tracks. Then ride like hell to leave the scene. Don’t stop to complain to the owner. Only had to use it once in 30-odd years.
Or vinegar in that squeeze bottle
WTF! Get a lawyer
Yea; stop talking about this at all publicly and find an attorney. Sucks to litigious but apparently the only way some folks want to operate.
Are the victims being nice in not pursuing tort liability here or something? Seems like a perfect opportunity to make a personal injury claim – owner is aware dog is dangerous and allows it to run loose where it attacks innocent passersby on a public road.
Any lawyers able to weigh in?
I have to pay extra homeowners insurance premiums just because my dog has the same coloring as a German Shepherd, even though he is half the size and has never attacked anyone. I’d be surprised if they still have insurance at this point.
I always carry bear spray when I ride. I have no sympathy for dogs like this or their owners.
Carry bear spray.
Cut off the top of water bottle and place the bear spray in the seat tube bottle cage, for fast access.
I’ve been bitten twice by dogs when running over the years (most recent was last year by a dog on a leash (!), that completely ripped open my bicep). Multiple incidents should result in the dogs being put down. I’m a dog-lover, but plain and simple the dogs (and owners) are a nuisance and dangerous.
Especially if there is a record of this dog being a “repeat offender.” I am surprised Multnomah County Animal Services hasn’t posted the property and put the owners on notice, if bites have been reported and documented from these dogs. And yes, multiple unprovoked bite incidents should result in confiscation and euthanasia. I wonder if Oregon Humane Society’s Humane Law Enforcement team could be of any help?
The first time I was bitten the owner was there and volunteered to put the dog down since he had little kids and didn’t think he could trust the dog. Most recently animal control asked me what kind of charges I wanted to press (I opted for fairly light ones since the owner seemed to get it and it was a first time offense). I too am really surprised that animal control wouldn’t be pushing for further measures against the owner/dogs.
As a teenager, I was jumped on and bitten by my uncle’s old dog while we were visiting, I still have the canine tooth puncture scar on my calf! I found out years later that my uncle had the dog put down the day after we left. Same deal, he was afraid for the toddlers running around his house all the time. I’m surprised that dog owners still think this rationally through all the way to the end. It’s usually more of a “my dog is fine, you must be the problem” kind of thing these days.
I’m a dog lover, but this is pretty outrageous. Get a lawyer and go after them for lots of $. Medical bills plus pain and suffering. Document your injuries, need for pain medication, loss of sleep. Contemporaneous documentation of all your pain and suffering may help prove your case. Oh, and be prepared for your entire medical history to be brought up by the defendants. It sucks, but what the dog owners did, and continue to do, is just plain wrong.
There was just a thread on OBRA Chat about these dogs. Don’t know if this is the same incident but it’s all there to read about..
I consider warmongers the worst humans, yet few types of people draw my scorn as much as dog owners who neglect their dogs to the extent that their dogs get territorial beyond their territory and threaten/attack humans they don’t know. Surely the dogs could have had a much better life.
Anyway, customers in my bike shop say they prefer wasp spray over bear spray for its price, range, and precision, so folks might want to try that, too. Fortunately I’ve never had to spray an attacker, so I don’t know what’s best.
Whoa that sounds like a kinda dangerous recommendation honestly — do you know how insecticide affects smaller mammals? I’d be a little concerned about permanent damage (and honestly about potential carcinogenic effects to myself) from that nasty shit. Bear spray is just pepper spray AFAIK and not carcinogenic or dangerous (other than being extremely painful).
Thanks for raising those issues, Ben. I know neonicotinoids have killed more than insects in this farm-heavy region, but I hadn’t looked into what constitutes wasp spray in years. The customer who most recently recommended it basically stated it’s the same as bear spray. I should have taken his words with more skepticism, because after a quick search, I see now that using it for self defense tends to be illegal, and unlike bear spray, it is a poison.
So…don’t use wasp spray, folks!
I hate to think what these people will do if “cyclists” cause them to be fined or have their dogs taken away. Crappy situation. Really sorry about the injuries and trauma.
Ugh, a few weeks back I was mtn biking along a trail in the woods on the east side of rocky butte and had three dogs run out of a camp and chase me. A Doberman, a Pit, and some kind of big Aussie. One dog jumping up on each side of the bike, the other running back and forth in front. Haven’t been that scared in a long time. Crappy thing in this scenario is there’s no “address”, and thus no “traceable owner,” for animal control to reference. I called and they weren’t sure what to do/where to send someone to. I’ve since heard of multiple people having similar experiences in the same area with the same campers. I will not be going back there without pepper spray.
I’m surprised the county has let this go on or that that owners weren’t sued long ago, especially since Portlanders generally have a absolutely insane trust of unknown dogs and are typically quick to label fairly normal ones as aggressive.
I have scars on my hands, arms, and legs and don’t think much of most measures that are typically touted. In real situations, you often only have a few seconds making deploying anything difficult, and sprays can easily get you as well if there is wind. Drag racing dogs is fun (especially on a trike where the eyeball level teeth can produce inspired sprints) but it’s not safe and won’t actually work with any dog worthy of that title unless you have a lead or other advantage.
Your demeanor is by far the most useful tool, being calm, slow (getting off the bike and try to get the frame between you and the dog), no eye contact, and assertive. Getting the energy level down is essential. If it comes down to actual combat, try to use knees to block and keep hands closed.
I think it’s important to remember that dog problems are caused by people before being cruel to a living thing unlucky enough to be owned by a jerk. And let’s be real, the way our society solves problems is by killing the animals when the humans who own them are irresponsible.
Ugh, this is my nightmare! I was bitten badly by a dog while riding a bicycle as a 10-year-old, so the 5 or 6 encounters with aggressive dogs I’ve had since on my bike as an adult are extra scary. I always focus on trying to kick the heads/snouts of the dogs if they are able to get close, which has kept me from getting bitten–so far. I’m an animal lover and hate to have to do this, but when owners are irresponsible, you’ve got to defend yourself. It really seems the County is not doing its job here.
The un-holy trinity: Loose Dogs, cars and guns…
A lot of people are arguing for a tort suit, which is an appropriate course of action. Unfortunately, unless the dogs’ owner has liability insurance, most personal injury attorneys won’t take the case because they want to be sure of getting paid. So that leaves a potential plaintiff paying for legal fees, and then a marshal to enforce a writ of execution when the owner won’t pay. Short of finding someone with deep pockets to fund a lawsuit, this dog owner is likely judgment proof, especially if the homestead exemption of $40 – 50,000 comes into play.
with all the platinum level infrastructure here in Portland, why do cyclists insist on antagonizing folks in the country? Maybe these dog owners have had problems with tweaker prowlers before or something.
Let’s turn the logic around to see how it works the other way: Why do country folk insist on antagonizing city dwellers by creating traffic jams by bringing their pollution-spewing, gas-guzzlers into town with all the wide-open roads out in the countryside?
That road is not “their” road; it is everyone’s road. The homeowners are at fault.
With all the interesting and fun places to eat in NE Portland, why do people insist on antagonizing SE Portland restaurateurs with their demands for clean forks and salmonella-free mayonnaise?
Kalen, pedaling down a road does not amount to antagonizing people who live beside the road. Have you conflated this event with others, or what?
The best ride on “platinum” infrastructure doesn’t hold a candle to a mediocre ride on real roads.
The distances are too short for it to be worth going out, you have to go slow, and the scenery is junk. It kills the purpose of cycling, and it would frankly be more fun to ride on a trainer.
Using the roads is in no way antagonistic unless done in an inconsiderate way.
For all of my life except in Portland, I’ve ridden almost exclusively rural roads (that being the only kind available), and I’ve had fewer negative interactions than in a supposedly cycling friendly city.
Poorly socialized “guard” dogs owned by even more poorly socialized humans are an unfortunate reality of rural riding.
Anyone going for a walk or bike ride should carry pepper spray/mace with them. This might stop a dog attack.
How bout simply pepper spraying the bad doggies?
Just a terrible situation all around. Hoping for a good resolution.
I have ridden Moreland many times but have not seen or heard from these dogs, thankfully. Maybe I should pay more attention.
I was bitten over 30 years ago on newspaper route and I still think about it. It really can stick with you forever.