Dog Incident on Springwater

3/31 UPDATE: My friend is out of the hospital and halfway done with her sequence of surgeries. As it turns out the dogs did in fact did make contact and what I thought was road rash on her face and ear are actually wound marks from their bites. She also broke her ankle in the process of fighting off the dogs and not the crash itself. Be crazy careful out there.

We had an unfortunate encounter with a homeless individual and his dogs that left my friend in the hospital. She’s facing surgery later today to repair her ankle. The point of my story is to remind everyone to be careful of aggressive dogs on the trail, especially when compounded by poor visibility as a result of by homeless camps and moving caravans.

This started yesterday afternoon when four of us decided to ride the Springwater from Sellwood to Gresham to get in some training miles and hopefully catch some spring blooms in the lesser spoiled natural areas free of campers. My wife and I rode ahead as we’re a bit faster. Just past the Johnson Creek/45th Place crossing we passed two men, one had a bike with a trailer and another was pushing a very large plastic bin on an undersized dolly. Tied to the front of the bin with heavy rope were two medium to large sized dogs. The owner pulled his dogs back as we passed, they were barking and pulling at the rope so I sped up just in case. My wife said hello to the owner and he responded in kind. Not great but no-one harmed and no ill will on either side.

About five minutes later we received a call from our friend begging us to return. The fourth member of our party had been passing the man with the bin and the dogs had not been restrained and had lunged at her. This was just before the 55th street crossing. The dogs never got her but she crashed as a result and severely broke her ankle. I wasn’t there and my friend is on painkillers in the hospital, so I don’t yet have the exact sequence of events. That’s the bad part of the story.

The good part is that a passing runner stopped and called 911 after seeing everything unfold, then stayed until the paramedics arrived. A nearby resident grabbed a bunch of towels and ice packs for my friend to ease her pain while she bled on the trail, and many passing cyclists offered help and sympathy. The mysterious dog owner also stuck around a bit and obviously felt bad about what happened, but quietly slipped away and abandoned his load when the paramedics notified their dispatch that aggressive dogs were involved. Milwaukie PD showed up to take statements but since the dog owner had fled there wasn’t much he could do. This leaves my friend facing medical bills and months of recovery with no recourse against the owner.

I don’t entirely blame the mysterious man as his life situation obviously sucks, but he’s clearly one of the hundreds of campers using the trail to haul in building materials and supplies and generally make it an unsafe place for bicyclists and pedestrians. Be careful out there.

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I’m sorry to hear about your friend and hope the surgery goes well. I’ve decided to confine my use of the Springwater Trail to east of 136th for now. The drug camps west of there are larger and more numerous than last year. In addition to the threat of violence and uncontrolled dogs, the trail surface is covered with broken glass in a number of places as I found out early last week. Hopefully, the authorities will start paying attention to the overwhelming public desire to save our communities and public spaces and begin reclaiming them for us. The experiment of laissez-faire decriminalization of hard drugs and ignoring the attendant crime and human misery caused by drug addiction has been an abject failure for society.

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Thank you. I also don’t blame you. Right now I’m looking for new routes around the region and pretty much giving up on any MUPS save for those along the Willamette. Sadly I believe the current state of affairs is going to complicate if not kill continuing efforts to get more MUPS built. I’ve worked in the burbs for 15 years and it was always difficult battling the perception of Portland when advocating for new trails, and sadly that perception is becoming reality.

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