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Pit bulls attacked without warning, UPS driver says in lawsuit as dogs labeled dangerous

A UPS driver who was mauled by four pit bulls while delivering a package in the Puyallup area has sued the dogs’ owners.

Kevin Backlund, 59, needed more than 133 stitches for 36 wounds sustained in the Sept. 13 attack.

He said he was not warned about potentially dangerous dogs and saw no sign of the animals when he parked outside the gate, honked and rattled the chain link fence.

After walking 75 feet onto the property, Backlund was surrounded and attacked by four pit bulls. He was able to get onto a flatbed trailer and call 911 for help while trying to fend off the dogs.

Jason Owens and Darryl Burgess, who live and work on the property, knew “that their pit bull dogs were extremely vicious and dangerous, and that the animals had been specifically trained to seriously injure and/or kill people who entered onto the property,” according to the lawsuit.

Davis Law Group filed the suit Wednesday on behalf on Backlund, who is asking for unspecified damages.

Pierce County prosecutors are still reviewing the case and have not decided whether to file criminal charges against Owens or Burgess.

A Pierce County hearing examiner recently deemed the dogs dangerous and denied an appeal from the owners, which means the owners must now try to get a permit from the Auditor’s Office if they’d like to get the dogs back.

The pit bulls — Laurentisis, LJ, Zero and Lexi — are being kept at the Tacoma-Pierce County Humane Society.

Backlund said he was not warned there were dogs on the property and did not see a Beware of Dog sign until he already walked through the gate, according to a county report.

“When he turned around, he was surrounded (by) four pit bulls who had approached him in silence. Without provocation, all four animals attacked at once,” the report says.

A private investigator who testified at the hearing said he spoke with the Wisconsin company that mailed the package and they said there was a note with the package warning the deliveryman not to go through the gate.

However, the hearing examiner found the investigator’s testimony to be hearsay and pointed out that the company “had substantial reason to misrepresent the truth due to their own liability in any civil matter,” according to the report.

The lawsuit contends there was no warning about the dogs.

It lists several other people and companies alleged to have some involvement with the pit bulls and the property as defendants.

The law firm said it is still sorting out the relationships of everyone involved.

One person who must be identified is a woman who allegedly threatened to shoot an Orting battalion chief if he went onto the property to rescue Backlund.

She refused to unlock the gate or call the dogs off and said the driver deserved to be killed because he was trespassing, the suit says.

The chief decided to drive a department SUV through the chain link fence and pull alongside Backlund, who was able to kick one of the pit bulls off his leg and crawl through the passenger side window.

Backlund was emotional when he testified at the hearing but declined to say what he wants to happen to the dogs.

The owners did not appear at the hearing but a recorded message was played: “I feel bad for the guy, but you know the sad part about it, those dogs were doing their job. We have $3 million worth of equipment in that lot and those dogs were doing their job.”

Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653

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