26-year-old Covelo resident Mario Montes is in the hospital after nine dogs converged on him and attacked him yesterday morning. As he walked along Tabor Lane to get some food from Aztec Grill, the dogs surrounded him and began to bite his legs. He had to punch three in the face. They finally scattered after he swung a bucket wildly. His legs are covered in lacerations and he is being dosed with antibiotics to avoid the infections that often come with animal bites.
Richard Molinari, the Director of Mendocino County’s Animal Care Services, said one of his Animal Protection Officers met with Montes at Howard Hospital yesterday, and “it appears there is no known suspect-dog owner.” Molinari said his office reached out to Round Valley Police Officers and was unable to speak with anyone.
He addressed the jurisdictional question saying, “Round Valley has an animal control ordinance that their Police Officers enforce.”
Montes is the second victim of a dog attack in as many months. On January 19, 2023, a man was airlifted to Howard Hospital after one of the animal’s bit and damaged his hand.
Covelo has a wild dog problem and many community members do not feel safe. These dogs are reportedly roaming throughout Round Valley, some docile and others hostile, and despite these attacks, the problem persists.
These dogs are not only attacking humans but livestock in the valley. Round Valley Indian Tribe Vice President Lewis Whipple told us he had lost four goats to a pack of dogs, but he could not say whether they were the same ones that attacked Montes.
Whipple said that many of the dogs are “left behind guard dogs from the severely, non-existent marijuana industry.”
Many in the community have looked to Mendocino County, both law enforcement and animal control for solutions. Whipple explained the county has told tribal leaders “they have no jurisdiction on tribal lands. It’s been an ongoing dispute for years, basically, they wanted us to give up sovereign immunity in order for them to come onto tribal lands.”
With the increase in attacks and the community’s concern, Whipple told us the tribal government has “directed tribal police to find an officer dedicated to animal control, figure out a dog or animal shelter, get traps, etc.”