Authorities are searching for the owners of a dog that bit a young girl while she was playing at the Mount Shasta City Park on Friday afternoon.

Because the owners grabbed their dog and fled the scene before rabies vaccinations could be verified,  five year-old bite victim Brenna Smith will need to undergo preventative rabies treatments, said Mount Shasta animal control officer Gordon Howard.

“We don’t want anything from the owners,” said Brenna’s mother, Bridget. “We’re willing to work with them... we just want to know if the dog had been vaccinated or not.”

Bridget was on the swings with Brenna and her one year-old son, Seth around 4 p.m. on Friday. Her other daughter, four year-old Juliana was playing next to them.

“I noticed the dog because it had a pinch collar on it kept looking over at us and [the female owner] was jerking on its leash,” Bridget said. “It made me nervous, so I told Juliana to get up on the swing.”

Bridget said that’s when she heard the male owner yell something at the dog.

“When I looked back up, the dog was running full speed at us, so I grabbed Juliana and swept her up.”

The dog then ran behind her and bit Brenna in the right calf, Bridget said.

“The [male owner] was right on top of the dog, and he pulled him off... the girl ran up the hill to where their car was parked, he grabbed the dog and they took off,” Bridget said.

Bridget immediately called 911, and Brenna was taken to Mercy Medical Center Mt. Shasta by ambulance. She received four stitches to close the two inch bite wound.

“It really hurted me when the dog bit me,” said Brenna Monday afternoon. “It would make me feel happy if we could find it.”

The dog is a reddish brown pit bull mix with a white chest and muzzle, said Bridget.

The owners appeared to be in their mid-twenties. The female has long dark reddish-brown hair, and was wearing a red tank top and black capri pants. The male was wearing baggy pants and an oversized t-shirt, Bridget said.

The couple fled the scene in a small, dark colored sedan and were thought to head north on Interstate 5, said Mount Shasta police chief Parish Cross.

“We’re doing all we can to find this dog immediately,” Cross said. “We’re following up on every lead, but they aren’t panning out as we would like them to.”

Because the dog could not be quarantined or examined following the bite, Brenna has had to take preventative measures against rabies, said Siskiyou Humane Society director Kim Latos.

“People that have aggressive dogs shouldn’t have them in public,” she said. “The fact that these owners took off probably means they knew the dog was dangerous. We are assuming that it could have a bite history, and it may not have been immunized. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have run.”

Brenna received her first dose of rabies immune globulin after school on Monday. She’ll need four more painful injections over the next 28 days if the dog is not found and confirmed to be rabies free, Bridget said.

Though Bridget is angry, she said she’s also grateful that things weren’t as bad as they could have been.

“It could have bit her in the face, or it could have knocked Juliana down or pulled Seth out of the swing. It could have been worse... Brenna’s going to be alright.”

Latos sent out a plea for the owners to come forward. If they do, they won’t be prosecuted, she emphasized.
“There’s already a misconception about pit bulls, and things like this are the reason people fear bully breeds,” she said. “Pit bull owners need to be ambassadors and do the right thing.”

As long as the dog doesn’t have a bite history, the owners will most likely be able to have their dog back after the quarantine period, Latos added.

Anyone who has information regarding this incident should contact Mount Shasta animal control officer Gordon Howard at 926-7540. They can also call the Humane Society at 859-3953.