Police Dog Bites Woman, Sparks Lawsuit

Police Dog Bites Woman, Sparks Lawsuit

An Alaska state ferry employee filed a lawsuit against the city of Bellingham, Washington, after being bitten by a police dog during a routine search for explosives.

Lynn B. Olson, an Alaska Marine Highway System employee, was directing cars onto the M/V Columbia at the Bellingham Cruise Terminal when Striker, a Bellingham police dog, bit her.

Officer Shan Hanon, the officer in charge of Striker, was leading the dog around cars waiting to board the cruise ship, checking for explosives.

Olson’s attorney, Charles R. Jones, said, “The police officer closed the tailgate of a vehicle, squeezing and pinching the dog’s paw, causing him to go out of control and bite the person nearest to him, which happened to be my client.”

The bite on her right hand was so severe that she required surgery. The suit claims that she has spent more than $11,000 on medical bills and doctor visits. Jones said, “(Olson) still has problems with her hand.”

The city responded to the personal injury lawsuit saying that she, “caused and contributed” to the incident by, “placing herself in close proximity to the dog.”

Jones believes the city’s reaction is irresponsible and that the officer should have warned Olson and told her to move away from the dog. He went on to say that Olson’s injury was not the result of her trying to pet the dog.

The Alaska Marine Highway System is named in Bellingham’s response to the lawsuit as a possible third-party. If a judge agrees, the state of Alaska could be held partially liable for Olson’s injury.

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