Editorial: Yakama Nation must address dog problem

"It's a news story we don't want to report: Another child being mauled by dogs.

The latest case involved a 4-year-old Wapato girl who was hospitalized after being attacked by at least three dogs.

Before that it was a similar incident two years ago, when José Basilio at age 4 was viciously attacked by about a half-dozen dogs in his grandmother's West Wapato yard. The boy's arms were nearly torn off, and he still bears the scars left by skin grafts that cover more than 60 deep bites to his head, neck, back and legs.

The problem is particularly acute in the Lower Valley, and if ever there was an issue that demands intergovernmental cooperation to solve it, this is it. That, of necessity, means cooperation among local government and law enforcement at the city and county levels, and certainly the Yakama Nation.

Wapato police Chief Richard Sanchez told our reporter that the dog problem in his town is further complicated by a jurisdictional dispute with the Yakama Nation, a sovereign government that has two tribal housing projects in Wapato.

Wapato police, along with city and Yakima County animal control officers, have no authority in the housing projects, where many of the dogs come from, Sanchez said.

The police chief said he's not blaming the whole dog problem on the tribe, but only wishes tribal authorities would put forth a similar effort as the city has to curb the problem of dangerous and stray dogs.

That's a reasonable request. Public health and safety transcends jurisdictional boundaries, including those of the Yakama reservation."

Get the Story:
Editorial: All agencies must work together to end roaming dogs (The Yakima Herald-Republic 3/27)

Related Stories
Girl attacked by dogs on Yakama Reservation (3/21)