Pit-bull owner pleads guilty after attack on woman
Pit-bull owner pleads guilty after attack on woman

Wednesday, February 11, 2009 - Page updated at 03:55 PM

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Huong Le was attacked by 2 pit bulls, almost killing her at her home in SeaTac. Her legs, arm, skull and ears were injured in the attack.

Pit-bull owner pleads guilty after attack on woman

By Sharon Pian Chan

Seattle Times staff reporter

The owner of two pit bulls that mauled a 72-year-old SeaTac woman in September pleaded guilty Tuesday to possession of a dangerous dog.

Travis Dean Cunningham, 36, also pleaded guilty to first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm. He faces seven years in prison for the two felonies and five more years for violating terms of a previous criminal sentence. The King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office is seeking a sentence of 11-½ years.

Cunningham was arrested in September after his two dogs escaped a fenced yard and attacked Huong Le. His negligence led prosecutors to seek a rare felony charge against him, prosecutors said. He had previous convictions for assault, burglary, unlawful possession of firearms and drug possession.

Le was returning home after walking a child she cares for to the school-bus stop and was attacked at 8:15 a.m. A neighbor called 911 and used a pitchfork to try to get the dogs off her. When King County sheriff deputies arrived, the dogs were still biting her. They fatally shot the two male dogs.

Le suffered severed ears, a crushed arm and deep bite wounds all over her body.

Eric John Makus, who considers Le an adopted mother, said Tuesday that Le wants to put the attack behind her. But the damage to her right arm makes it difficult for her to even sign her name, he said.

"She's still suffering permanent disability with her right arm," he said. "The scarring on her leg remains open. It's not completely healed."

The attack prompted some, including Makus, to call for a ban on the breed.

"The punishment of Mr. Cunningham is not going to prevent a future attack on a human being," Makus said. "The only way to prevent a future attack on a human being is to ban pit bulls."

At the very least, Makus said it should be illegal for convicted felons to own pit bulls.

Ban opponents say officials should focus on enforcing leash laws.

Cunningham is scheduled to be sentenced March 13.

Sharon Pian Chan: 206-464-2958 or schan@seattletimes.com

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