BREAKING: Former Burien Mayor Attacked By Pit Bull; 1 Dog Shot

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Burien's Maplewild Ave SW was blocked in the 15600 block Thursday as police scoured the area searching for one of two pit bulls involved in attacks on two women.

Story & Photo by Scott Schaefer

Former Burien Mayor and founding City Councilmember Sally Nelson was one of two women attacked by two pit bulls Thursday afternoon (July 7) around 1 p.m. in the 15600 block of Maplewild Ave SW.

Police officers shot and killed one of the dogs, while a second one escaped.

There was a huge police turnout, including numerous cruisers, aid units and a chopper overhead assisting in searching for the second pit bull, which was not found.

Several Burien and King County Sheriff’s cruisers were on the scene as was BTB Publisher/Editor Scott Schaefer, who spoke with Brandon, a neighbor who heard a woman screaming and called 911.

Former Burien Mayor and founding councilmember Sally Nelson was attacked by a pit bull on her property Thursday afternoon (July 7).

“I was home watching TV when I heard screaming,” he said. “I came out of my home and saw two pit bulls running around, and a woman with a stroller injured. I checked on her, saw that she and her kid were both okay, then called 911.”

Brandon says that police responded quickly, and tried unsuccessfully to catch the loose dogs with a Taser. However, some 30-minutes later, Sally Nelson came out to talk with the police. As she was returning to her home, she was attacked and bitten in the leg, and reports are that police pulled the dog off her and shot it right there in her yard.

Maureen Hoffmann, who lives in the neighborhood, confirmed that the second victim was indeed Sally Nelson.

Here are some more details:

  • Neither woman was seriously injured; reports are that Sally Nelson apparently just got a tetanus shot and stayed at home.
  • Maplewild was blocked for a while as police scoured the area for the second pit bull.
  • The first pit bull lay dead in the back of a truck owned by Burien CARES, the new animal control. This was witnessed by Schaefer on the scene.
  • Debra George of Burien CARES says that the still-escaped pit bull is “mostly red, with a little bit of white.”

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37 Responses to “BREAKING: Former Burien Mayor Attacked By Pit Bull; 1 Dog Shot”
  1. skeptical says:

    What is the description of the second dog?

  2. Mark says:

    Who owns the dogs?

  3. Bernice Bellamy says:

    Given how screwed up Burien’s Animal Services are maybe this is just karma. Sorry someone was hurt and very sad to hear a dog was killed and I’m sure the other one — when found – will be shot and killed by the cops, too. This is what happens when you have irresponsible owners, an irresponsible city council and a city manager that doesn’t have a clue about animal care and control. Sad for all animals in Burien with the awful system they have now.

  4. Eaton B. Verz says:

    Now that’s how you take care of a vicious dog on the loose! City council please take note! That officer eliminated the problem and saved the cost of transporting it toYakima! Now, let’s find the owner. I’m sure CARES is hot on the trail…….

  5. Ed Dacy says:

    I understand that these dogs were reported (April) to the previous animal control contractor. CARES needs to find this remaining vicious animal quickly

    • Wheels says:

      Do you know where the dogs lived, where they escaped from?

    • Hotrodgal says:

      Ed, can you elaborate on this previous dangerous dog report?
      And, if the dogs were previously reported, were the owners identified?
      Is this public information and available?

      I also wonder if that report was transferred to CARE and reviewed
      for a “dangerous dog watch” list?

      If the dog’s owners had the previous report tied into their
      ownership, I would love to see those dog owners get billed
      for the emergency services that responded to this…at least.

      I absolutely hate leash laws and agree that this kind of thing is
      happening far too often. However, incarcerating Mindy, the
      neighborhood’s golden retriever, following her kids down
      the road is not the answer.

      For those feeling sorry for the dead dog and the one being
      hunted, I think this “don’t blame the dog, it’s not his fault”
      attitude is a tad too late.
      The dogs are a hazard and must be removed.

      • Ed Dacy says:

        Hotrodgal, On the previous call on the dogs I was told that by a neighborhood person. I doubt the information was given to CARES. The owner of these dogs should turn the remaining dog in.

        Any dog that attacks people needs to be gotten off the street quickly!

    • Renae says:

      If these dogs were loose before and never bitten anyone before why would they start bitting people now. They had to be scared from something.

  6. Maria Little says:


  7. spaceagepolymer says:

    “There was a huge police turnout, including numerous cruisers, and a chopper overhead assisting in searching for the second pit bull, which was not found.”

    How much did this overkill cost the community? Assults from people get less attention.

    • Terry says:

      I am with spaceagepolymer on this one. Although any dog attack is unnerving, or even non attack since I have been confronted by numerous off-leash dogs since Seattle fails to seriously enforce leash laws. But why the overkill. Could be that the media have thrown people into an unwarranted frenzy involving dogs deemed to be, or alleged to be pit bulls? If the article is accurate (which is often questionable), we have a woman who had a scary experience (and I do feel for her since it is scary to have any breed of dog come at you menacingly), but who was uninjured, yet a dog has been killed, the neighborhood are thrown into a frenzy about the other roaming dog, numerous police and a chopper were called to the scene! Seriously! What happened to a simple call to animal control or a squad car coming out to contain the situation without having to kill any dogs!

      All this could have been prevented with simple leash laws enforced, punishment being dished out to reckless dog owners (of all breeds) who fail to leash or contain their dogs on their property. Instead, a frenzy will ensue and many responsible pit bulls owners are going to be targeted, especially in Burien. I thank God I do not reside in Burien and/or own a red pit bull!! Hopefully, rational minds will prevent the fear mongering from beginning!!

      • Terry – I should mention that I witnessed the deceased dog in the back of the Burien CARES truck, and can confirm with 100% certainty that it was indeed a pit bull.

        On another note, please clarify other instances you have found our accuracy to be questionable (links to stories would help) – I’d love to learn where and when we’ve been inaccurate before so we can improve our site, and honest feedback helps.

        Scott Schaefer

  8. local says:

    A helicopter? For a DOG. Really,Burien? Could you please use that money to shut down the crack house next door that I reported a few months ago?

  9. Bonnie says:

    Please tell me again….what is CARE’s responsibility in regards to animal control? What were their qualifications again? How many other responsibilities does Debra George have in this community? So many questions, can someone please give me or rather the community some answers?

    • Debra George says:

      In response to Bonnie

      CARES – Burien Animal Control was on site 15 minutes after we got the call. Officer Snyder of CARES remained on premise to assist with the police the entire time. We removed the one dog and Officer Snyder stayed and continued to look for the other dog until 9 pm last night. Officer Snyder also spent time talking with the neighbors he could to explain what had happended and what we where doing to resolve the situation.
      CARES will continue to work this case along side the Burien Police Department.

      Officer Snyder has been trained at the National Animal Control Association where he finished in the top of his class. Officer Snyder is employeed by CARES which is a non-profit 501 c(3) Corporation founded by Debra George with the mission of encouraging responsible pet ownership and enforce the animal laws and ordinances in order to protect the health, safety and welfare of people and animals in Burien. We took over animal control on June 15th of 2011.

  10. Betsy says:

    Before you jump on the City of Burien for the helicopter response, it was a King County Sheriff helicopter. It could be the decision to call it in went up the police dept chain of command and bypassed the City of Burien completely. It would be good to know exactly when CARE was called in on this and what their decisions were.

  11. bryang says:

    My ex girlfriend was attacked by two pit bulls outside of her veterinary office off of 1ST Ave.

    • skeptical says:

      Did helicopters respond? Or was your ex-girlfriend not an ex-mayor?

      • Burienite says:

        @skeptical: Remember, it wasn’t just an ex-city councilmember that got bit–it was also another woman who was pushing a stroller who got bit first. That is why the police came out there in the first place. It was AFTER the police arrived and were trying to contain the two dogs that Sally Nelson was bit.

        And do what if a helicopter was used? The Guardian-1 helipcopter from the Sheriff’s office is often up in the air anyways, so it probably just headed over to the incident to help out with the search of the dog.

        Two vicious dogs on the loose definitely warrants a police response like this.

  12. Julie says:

    I live in this area and last year I had a pit bull in my backyard that easily cleared a 4 foot fence more than once. I have 2 dogs, 2 cats and a 2 year old grandchild, fortunately none were in the back yard at the time and when I attempted to scare him away from my glass door, he didn’t budge till he left on his own terms.
    Why do I have to be worried about a loose unpredictable breed like a pit bull to enter my fenced yard. When is Burien going to get on board with several other cities and ban this breed from our city. If we wait, many cities around us will ban the breed which will drive the owners of this breed to seek refuge in Burien that tolerates attacks on innocent victims such as children, adults, big dogs, little dogs, cats. With so many breeds to choose from why would someone want a dog like this unless they need protection from what ? Drug dealers ?? Gang members ??
    Do you want your daughter or son, (many times a child will not survive an attack)grandchild, elderly parent taking a stroll, you, walking your dog or your cat in his own yard. Let’s think about the rights of the innocent not the rights of those who wish to own a breed such as this.

  13. Neighbor M says:

    I was coming home at a quarter after one today. I saw the helicopter circling and as I was coming down Maplewild, at just about the area cleared for development, above the hairpin turn, I saw the second dog, the “red” one (more like “rust orange” with no white visible at a quick glance) running fast UP the hill of Maplewild in the direction of Seahurst. (Unless the dog has headed home at some time since this afternoon, it may still be loose anywhere in this area.)

    Arriving near my home in the 15600 block, the helicopter was circling over my house and the police cars, sheriff cars, fire trucks and aid units blocked the road, and my driveway, in front of my house. I parked at a neighbor’s, then walked down my driveway to the road and talked to the other neighbor that had placed the “911” call.

    New neighbors two doors south of me are the ones that have (had) the two dogs.

    From what the witnessing neighbor told me, the helicopter was circling long before former Mayor and City Council member Nelson was attacked (so, Skeptical, please quit your snippy comments about “was your ex-girlfriend not an ex-mayor”.)

    Ms. Nelson had been talking to the police at the road, then walked up her stairs to her front door and unfortunately encountered the two dogs there, and they attacked her. This was more than a scary experience, Terry, and she did sustain an injury, though thankfully, not as severe as it could have been, given the circumstances.

    Since we have not heard of the second dog being caught or returning home, I would certainly recommend being alert when outside in this neighborhood for the next few days.

    And if you have a dog and haven’t trained or socialized it properly, please do the animal, and all of us, a tremendous service and find the dog another home! (No matter what the breed.)

    • Renae says:

      You don’t know the dogs or the family so how can you say the dogs weren’t socialiazed. I know them and can say the dogs were some of the sweeteest dogs you could have. They were provoked and scared.

  14. M says:

    I know the “owners”, the dogs are like big babies. They have 2 little children. Never an incident of growluing, etc. The uptight testosterone filled officer gave all the details out loud when the children were present. That’s cruel. And they put 8 BULLETS into this poor dog…they won’t even repond like this to a child prowler call, etc.. WTF!!! I am so so upset with the way the “authorities” handle things. It’s complete B.S. I’m sorry someone got hurt…oh, by the way, their door was “KICKED IN” whe they returned home, looked like a break in, the po-po’s didn’t even want to deal with that report. the dogs got out and were scared, they weren’t “running around”. They take good care of their babies. I am so angry with this!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Wheels says:

      M, since you know the owners, has the second dog been found?

    • j says:

      thank you for your post M no one cares at the fact of someone breaking into my cousins house which is why the dogs where out in the first place how are they suppose to know the diffrence between an intruder and a police officer, my nephew was so devastated lastnight because that was his dog the owners are not angry dog fighting owners they loved these dogs enough to share there pillows.No the dog has not been found yet I am trying to help them find her so they still have at least one of there babies

  15. RECON19d40 says:

    Understand a lot of people want dogs fired upon when police respond??? Are none of you concerned with human error??? You trust that excited cop to pop off 8 9mm or 40S&W and hopefully hit nothing but the dog???? Do you believe while excited maybe the cop will forget to ensure that he knows what is located behind his target??? Would be sad if a child was accidentally shot. Guess no one really thinks of that. Is it procedure to corner and confront animals running about the neighborhood? Their door got kicked in, so maybe if they had a leash on inside the house the dogs would not have escaped? Some amazing ideas on here! I think i will keep my dogs leashed, in cages with muzzles on when I leave them alone in my house! I know the owners, they cared for those dogs like they where their kids. They had them since they where puppies. The first time I ever met them, they jumped on me and licked me until i was soaked. I remember Tyson (the one who was shot), sat on my lap the whole night and almost licked the skin off my face. It amazes me to see what people say when they hear the word “pit bull”. Do all pit bull owners fight their dogs? Do they all mistreat their dogs? Would it be easier to know the facts before you say nasty things about some one? Disappointed and ashamed of the way the police handled this, and how the media covered it! So one family with two little boys who are heart broken lost two dogs they have known their whole life and the media smears their family name. This whole thing could have been handled differently……..and had a happy outcome!

    • Eaton B. Verz says:

      happy outcome???? I guess the attack victims don’t count! Just collateral damage? The officers did the right thing! They are the trained profesionals. It’s always someone elses fault, never the owners. This is a good lesson for those kids. You play with fire, sometimes you get burned. Poor choice of breeds by the parents for a kids pet. You don’t hear of vicious beagles wandering the neighborhoods attacking innocent victims…..

  16. Neighbor M says:

    I have not seen the family name mentioned anywhere, in any of the media! How could the family name be smeared if it hasn’t been mentioned?

  17. RECON19d40 says:

    look at what people are posting all over the internet I have seen it

  18. theresa says:

    Frankly, we have more serious issues to worry about in the City of Burien than the occasional dog bite, but that’s a whole other rant. People, please do your research before commenting on stories like this. Small breed dogs are responsible for more bites than pit bulls, but these go unreported because the victims are family members and/or people don’t think of small breeds as vicious dogs. I have volunteered at a local animal shelter, (which is filled with pit bulls), in dog behavior services and have never even been nipped at by a pit bull, (not the same story for chihuahuas or the cocker spaniel). It does all come down to responsible pet ownership and a dependable, local animal services program. If you are truly passionate about this situation, stop commenting and start acting. I hear there’s an election for City Council coming up 🙂

  19. Clark Magnuson says:

    I have not seen Sally since the late 60’s, but I was chewed up badly by a pit bull in the early 60’s in Burien.

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