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.