JEREMY DUDA - Daily Herald
If John Erickson hadn't had his gun with him when a neighbor's pit bull attacked him, there's no telling how bad things might have been.
Erickson, 22, was walking up to his house on 400 South near 700 West in Orem on Wednesday when a neighbor's pit bull bit him from behind. As he rode his scooter to his house around 8:30 p.m., Erickson saw the dog sitting calmly while a neighborhood girl petted it. Then he parked and took three or four steps toward his house when the dog bit him.
"All of a sudden the dog grabbed my leg from behind," he said.
He swung his scooter helmet at the dog, which backed off for a moment. But when the dog charged forward, Erickson, who has a concealed weapons permit, drew his 9-millimeter pistol and fired at the dog's head. Erickson said he worries about what would have happened if he hadn't been armed.
"There's nothing I could've done. I couldn't run. There's no way I'm going to outrun it. There's nowhere I could go," said Erickson, a student at Utah Valley State College.
Even more, he said he worries about what would've happened if the dog had attacked his wife, Lynn Ann, who came home just two minutes before him, or the many children who walk down that street on their way to and from Orem Elementary School.
Erickson's mother, Lyn Erickson, who lives across the street, said she used to dislike her son's gun.
"Now I'm saying, 'I'm just so thankful he had a gun.' I'm just so thankful because what would you do?" she said.
At Erickson's request, no charges were filed against the dog's owner, said Orem police spokesman Lt. Doug Edwards. Vicious animal citations and letting dogs run free are misdemeanor offenses.
"You can't allow your dog to run at large. It doesn't matter how they get off the property, whether it's a hole (in the fence) or a broken leash. Dogs can't run loose," Edwards said.
The dog survived the shot to the top of its head. Erickson said the owner initially planned to euthanize the dog because its veterinary bills were expected to be as high as $4,000. But the owner had a change of heart and decided not to put the dog down, he said.
The owner of the dog, who Erickson said moved to the neighborhood several weeks ago, was not identified and could not be reached for comment. Orem police would not release the owner's name because no charges were filed.
Erickson said he is now concerned because the hole in his neighbor's fence has not been fixed -- a pile of branches now blocks the hole -- and the dog owner has another pit bull that he worries could get loose and hurt someone.
"Every day little kids from Orem Elementary walk right past the house. It could've been one of the little kids, it could've been my wife who got home two minutes before me," he said.
Lyn Erickson said she plans to talk to police about the hole in the neighbor's fence.
Jeremy Duda can be reached at 344-2561 or firstname.lastname@example.org
This story appeared in The Daily Herald on page A1.